See link for photo.
KOCHI: Elephants languishing in the confines of various kraals in the state can breathe easy. For the state government has decided to pump in Rs105 crore into the elephant rehabilitation centre at Kottoor, Thiruvananthapuram, to develop it into a state-of-the-art elephant rehabilitation centre. Two firms have been tasked with preparing and submitting the detailed project report (DPR).
“The firms Malankara Social Service Society, Archbishop House in Pattom and Pune-based Unison Project Management Pvt Ltd have been shortlisted to prepare and submit the DPR to develop the rehabilitation centre. They have been given four months,” said Shajikumar, CEO of Neyyar-Peppara Forest Development Agency, which has been designated as the special purpose vehicle for the project. He said the rehabilitation centre will be expanded over threefold from its present 56 hectares to 175 hectares by acquiring the bordering forest lands.
“Elephant trenches will be dug around the rehabilitation centre to protect the forestlands. Elephants brought to the centre will be able to roam freely without shackles,” he said. As per officers, the new rehabilitation centre envisages an elephant museum, veterinary clinic, tourist facilitation centre, mahout quarters, visitors interpretation centre, besides amenities for the pachyderms which include specialised treatment facilities. The money for the project will be mobilised by the Kerala Infrastructure Investment Fund Board (KIIFB), the officers said.
The centre will be able to accommodate more than 50 elephants, which is sufficient considering there are close to 30 elephants in Forest Department-owned camps across the state.
The department had recently captured three wild jumbos which had wreaked havoc near human settlements in Aralam, Agali and Kallur in Wayanad. Barring the elephant captured from Agali, the pachyderms were sheltered at kraals in the respective areas. The captive elephant from Agali was shifted to a rehabilitation centre set up by the Forest Department at Kaprikad in Ernakulam.
All the three elephants, in addition to the jumbos at camps in Konni, Kodanad, and Muthanga can be rehabilitated to the new centre at Kottoor, said the officers.
The new centre will also serve as an attraction for tourists visiting the state as they can watch the elephants roam freely, the officers said.