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Maneka Gandhi calls for Rivaldo’s release

June 07, 2021 09:06 pm | Updated 09:06 pm IST - UDHAGAMANDALAM

Mahout Kirumaran giving training to Rivaldo kept in the ‘karal’ at the buffer zone of MTR on Monday.

Mahout Kirumaran giving training to Rivaldo kept in the ‘karal’ at the buffer zone of MTR on Monday.

Prominent animal rights activists and BJP MP, Maneka Gandhi, has called for the release of an elephant in Mudumalai Tiger Reserve (MTR), known to locals as ‘Rivaldo’.

The elephant was put inside a ‘kraal’ (elephant shelter used to contain the animal and to impart training), on May 5. Now a month after it was moved to the kraal, a mahout and two assistants have begun training the animal and to teach it commands.

Speaking to The Hindu on Monday, Ms. Gandhi stated that the elephant “has not attacked humans and is in no way a menace.”

Ms. Gandhi said that the elephant had become habituated to humans due to a wound on his snout, which has since healed. “It is the fault of humans for feeding him, so now he sees himself as semi-human,” she said.

The animal rights activist, whose recent intervention ensured the release of a captured elephant ‘Kusha’ in Karnataka, called on the Tamil Nadu government to follow the same with ‘Rivaldo.’

“Now the answer to this is to do a soft-release in Theppakadu without any chains, and feed him at a specific time and place,” she said, adding that the elephant should be left to gradually learn to forage for itself, and weaned off the feed. “If this works, he should be released into the forest,” she said.

T. Murugavel, who filed a case in the High Court seeking Rivaldo be left to roam free in Mudumalai, said that orders have been passed by the court that only allows the Forest Department to treat the animal for its injuries. “There is no need to restrain the elephant inside a kraal for over a month,” he said, calling on forest officials to release the animal.

“From what has been observed about the elephant, it only seeks food from people during times of scarcity. It has been surviving for so long without any need for medical intervention,” he added.

When contacted, K.K. Kaushal, Field Director of MTR, said that the Forest Department intends to treat the animal for its injuries. “There are people spreading rumours that we are beating the animal inside the kraal. This is not true. We are only administering medical treatment,” he said.

When asked about the training which has begun for the animal, Mr. Kaushal said that the commands are only to foster easier treatment for Rivaldo.

“A team of veterinarians will arrive in the coming weeks to check on how best to treat him,” he added.

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