Protest mounting overtranslocation of elephant (Tamil Nadu, India)


The Hindu

Date Published

Tribespeople residing inside the Parambikulam Tiger Reserve (PTR) bordering Pollachi region of Tamil Nadu on Sunday gheraoed the office of the deputy director of the reserve expressing anxiety over the move to translocate a rogue elephant that created panic across Wayanad and at present confined at a kraal at Muthanga.

Almost all the families living within the reserve took part in the protest, which was inaugurated N. Babu, MLA. Over 100 people from other parts of Nenmara constituency reached Parambikulam around noon extending solidarity with the agitating tribes.

Inaugurating the protest, Mr. Babu urged the Forest Department to immediately abandon the translocation initiative which invited even opposition from an expert committee that went through the whole issue. The protest was continuing even late into the evening amidst rumours that the elephant would be taken to Parambikulam by late night.

Meanwhile, the issue has taken a new dimension with local communities at border check-post Govindapuram and adjacent Muthalamada joining the stir by organising road blocks in the busy Thrissur- Nenmara- Pollachi Highway.

Parambikulam tribal resident G. Sasi Murukesan said the relocation would create trouble in the reserve which remained almost free from any man-animal conflict. The elephant nicknamed ‘Bharatan SI’ alias Kallur Komban among villagers in Wayanad was a constant trouble-maker, he said.

The elephant was captured in November last from Wayanad after it created terror in the villages of Kallur and Muthanga. Since then, it has been confined at a temporary elephant kraal at Muthanga. The regular crop raider used to attack forest officers and villagers in Wayanad.

It was only last week that Additional Chief Secretary P. Mara Pandiyan issued a directive permitting release of the elephant into the Parambikulam forest at the earliest. The chief conservator of forests based in Palakkad was directed to supervise the translocation.

Offcials confirmed that the decision was taken overlooking a report submitted by a seven-member expert committee headed by Kerala Forest Research Institute former director P.S. Easa terming the move a ‘risky experiment.’

“The rogue elephant would definitely create trouble in the new place. Parambikulam is known for coexistence of tribals and wild animals. The elephant will destroy the existing balance,’’ said S. Natarajan, another tribal resident.