The elephant reached Mettupalayam after over 13 hours of travel
Barely hours before the rejuvenation camp for temple elephants began, 57-year old Bhavani of the Ramanathaswamy Temple in Rameswaram died at the camp site in Mettupalayam near Coimbatore.
Bhavani reached Mettupalayam on Sunday after more than 13 hours of travel. She was transported after local veterinarians there examined her and certified that she was fit to travel. On arrival at the camp site, the elephant was weighed and veterinarians examined her and prescribed a food chart.
Around 5.30 p.m. on Sunday, the elephant got into river Bhavani and was drinking water in a kneeling position. She remained in the position for more than two hours. Mahouts and cavadis initially thought that the elephant was enjoying its dip in the waters.
When she failed to get up, veterinarians and officials found that something was wrong.
It was ascertained that the aged and exhausted elephant was unable to get up. Subsequently, she fell on her side in an awkward position complicating efforts to rescue her.
The elephant, which had consumed a lot of water, was lifted out of the river with the help of a crane.
Later, Bhavani was brought to the Forest Department timber depot on Kotagiri road and marathon efforts by veterinarians to revive her went in vain. By Monday, after the camp got under way, officials said the elephant died in the small hours and was being taken to Rameswaram for burial near the temple.
HR&CE Minister M.S.M. Anandan told The Hindu that a detailed report had been sought on the circumstances under which the elephant was brought to Mettupalayam for the camp.
48-day-long camp begins
Meanwhile, the 48-day-long camp alongside river Bhavani in Mettupalayam at the foothills of the Nilgiris began on Monday. The camp would provide much-required rest and relaxation for the jumbos in a natural atmosphere till January 12.
The camp began formally with Mr. Anandan feeding a 24-year-old Andal of Aranganathasamy Temple in Srirangam, the Chief Minister's constituency.