“Several new precautions instituted this year at the camp”

Elephants have begun arriving from all over the State at the rejuvenation camp established on a six-acre land along the banks of River Bhavani at Thekkampatti near Mettuppalayam in Coimbatore district. The camp will be formally inaugurated on Thursday.

Apart from Kalyani, the temple elephant of Patteeswarar Temple in Perur near Coimbatore, Vedanayagi, Bhavani Sangameshwarar Temple, Erode district, Akila of Sri Akilandeswari-Sri Jambukeswarar Temple in Tiruvanaikoil and Lakshmi of Thayumanava Swami Temple of Rockfort, Tiruchi reached by noon on Wednesday at the campsite.

P. Dhanapal, Commissioner, Hindu Religious and Charitable Endowments (HR and CE) Department, told The Hindu on Wednesday that several new precautions have been instituted this year for the camp.

While till now the camps featured only temple and mutt elephants, 55 captive elephants of Forest Department will also be part of this year’s camp. However, the forest and the temple/mutt elephants will not be allowed to mingle during the entire camp duration of 48 days as they will be kept on either side of the river.

Further, only the elephants that were healthy and able to withstand the journey are being brought to the camp. Aged elephants, those in ‘masth’ (aggressive behaviour owing to urge for biological ventilation), or suffering from any ailments were not being considered for the camp. Even elephants that refuse to board the vehicle will not be forced to attend.

Apart from 98 temple/mutt and Forest Department elephants from Tamil Nadu, he said that the elephants of Manakula Vinayagar Temple in Puducherry and Nagore Dargah in Nagapattinam district would also be taking part, thereby taking the total number of elephants at the camp to 100.

A major focus of the camp will be the weight of elephants. While those that are found to be overweight would be put on a diet and given physical exercise, elephants found to be below the optimum weight will be given special medicines along with their food, the Commissioner said. Special drugs that increase the energy levels of the elephants have been purchased from the Indian Medical Practitioners' Cooperative Pharmacy and Stores for this camp. The camp would provide an opportunity for the veterinarians to examine the elephants and attend to minor ailments.

Mr. Dhanapal said that all the elephants would reach the camp by Wednesday nightfall.

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