Following a proposal from the forest and wildlife department, the state government has accorded administrative sanction for the project estimated at Rs 105 crore which will be financed through the Kerala Infrastructure Investment Fund Board (KIIFB). A detailed project report (DPR) will be prepared soon before implementing the project in a time-bound manner, said Thiruvananthapuram wildlife warden Y M Shajikumar.
The revamped centre will still have its focus on rehabilitation of wild elephants with infirmities, though tourism will be a part of it, the wildlife warden said. “Now the centre is dealing with wild elephants which get estranged or injured. But in future the centre might also take care of captive elephants which needs rehabilitation, for which the state has no facilities at present,” he said adding that it would be a unique elephant sanctuary in the whole country.
The department has already enhanced the total area of the centre from existing 56 hectares to 175 hectares in the forest land for the revamp. The proposal is to have separate closed enclosures for each elephant besides near natural enclosures for their social mingling. The major components of the project include an elephant natural history museum and a speciality veterinary clinic estimated at Rs 20 crore each.
As per the government order, the Neyyar-Peppara Forest Development Agency has been designated as the special purpose vehicle (SPV) for the implementation of the project. Sanction has also been given for conducting a detailed feasibility study and the DPR.
The centre, which now accommodates 14 elephants aged between two-and-half months and 73 years and brought from several parts of the state, has already initiated ‘Kumki’ training for adolescent elephants, aimed to protect the tribal settlements in the area. “Two eight-year-olds, Agasthyan and Unnikrishnan, are now being trained for face to face encounter with wild elephants,” said the forest official in charge of the centre.