Rohini, a captive elephant that was attached to the Anamalai Tiger Reserve (ATR) following a court intervention in 2018, is the new inmate of the Elephant Rehabilitation and Rescue Centre (ERRC), Tiruchi. A truck carrying the elephant, aged around 25, left the Kozhikamuthy elephant camp of ATR late on Saturday after the Chief Wildlife Warden issued instructions for its shifting.
According to officials with the Forest Department, the elephant could not get accustomed to the weather and the routines at Kozhikamuthy camp as it was in the custody of a private person from Virudhunagar district for several years before being handed over to the ATR authorities in December 2018. It was also not trained to forage in the wild unlike the other camp elephants at Kozhikamuthy.
The camp elephants at Kozhikamuthy are given balls made of steamed ragi in the morning and evening. They are allowed to forage in the open area around the camp rest of the time.
However, Rohini did not get accustomed to the routine and had considerable weight loss. It often had diarrhoea.
A team of experts including veterinarians were tasked to assess the condition of the elephant and suggest a solution.
The experts opined that a change of location could improve the health of the elephant, based on which the Chief Wildlife Warden issued an order to transfer the animal to ERRC at M.R. Palayam in Tiruchi, said ATR Field Director S. Ramasubramanian.
Deputy Field Director of ATR M.G. Ganesan, Forest Veterinary Officer A. Sukumar and Ulandy Forest Range Officer A. Kasilingam oversaw the shifting of the elephant following standard operating procedure and norms of the Tamil Nadu Captive Elephants (Management and Maintenance) Rules, 2011.
According to the Forest Department, a native of Rajapalayam in Virudhunagar district had purchased the elephant in 2001 to be offered to a temple.
However, the man kept the elephant in his custody till 2003 and sold it to another person.
The second owner approached the Madurai Bench of the Madras High Court in November 2018, seeking permission to keep the elephant with him.
However, the court ordered the owner to hand it over to the Forest Department, following which it was attached to Kozhikamuthy camp in December 2018.