The Forest Department will make a final effort to drive wild elephant, Rivaldo, back into the forest and prevent him from entering human habitations again.
The elephant, a frequently seen animal in Vazhaithottan and Masinagudi, in the Mudumalai Tiger Reserve (MTR) buffer zone, was to be put inside a kraal and treated for his injuries, which, the department claimed, was preventing him from feeding out in the wild.
However, conservationists have criticised the move stating that the department will be forced into making Rivaldo a captive elephant if the animal is made to spend a prolonged period of time inside the kraal (a shelter usually built of wood to restrict the animal’s movement and used to tame captured wild elephants).
The animal is known for his gentle behaviour and has not injured or harmed human beings for the last 15 years that he has been seen in the area.
Field Director of MTR, K.K. Kaushal, told The Hindu on Monday the department would make a final attempt to drive Rivaldo back into the surrounding forest and prevent him from entering human habitations. “We are looking out for the best interests of the elephant. We hope he can live his life in the wild, but we might be forced into putting him in a kraal and feed him if he ventures out again and goes in search of food in the surrounding villages,” said Mr. Kaushal.
Mr. Kaushal said the effort to drive the elephant back into the forest would be done once he was given treatment for his injuries.
The department is also holding discussions with local conservation biologists to be part of the effort to successfully rehabilitate Rivaldo.
Welcoming the development, a local conservationist said, “It is indeed a very welcome shift in the department’s stance on the issue. We hope the efforts can be carried out in earnest as keeping the elephant away from the villages will take manpower and determination both from the Forest Department as well as the public,” he said.