Rejuvenation camp for temple, mutt elephants begins at Thekkampatti

The jumbo event: Decorated elephants during the inauguration of the 48-day annual rejuvenation camp at Thekkampatti on the banks of River Bhavani near Mettuppalayam on Monday.   | Photo Credit: M. Periasamy

The 13th annual rejuvenation camp for temple and mutt elephants began with the participation of 26 elephants from Tamil Nadu and Puducherry at Thekkampatti near Mettupalayam on Monday. Usually held in December-January, the camp was postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic and is being held in February-March. Hindu Religious and Charitable Endowments (HR&CE) Department officials said the mahouts of all the elephants and their assistants submitted COVID-19 negative certificates prior to entering the camp.

A release from the Coimbatore district administration said the rejuvenation camp for elephants had been organised by the State government at over ₹ 1.67 crore. The elephants comprised 21 temple elephants and three mutt elephants from the State along with two temple elephants from the Union Territory of Puducherry.

An official from the Forest Department said six watchtowers had been set up on the camp premises to monitor the camp. As all the participating elephants were female, their presence in large numbers might attract wild male elephants from the surrounding forest areas, he said. About 50 personnel from Mettupalayam, Karamadai and Sirumugai forest ranges would be deployed every day at the camp, the official added.

Diet for the elephants would comprise green fodder, fruits, and supplements as per the advice of veterinarians. The elephants would also undergo walking exercises in the mornings and evenings, the release said.

Mohammad Fazil from Erode, who visited the camp with his wife S. Arshu and two children, said this was the first time that he was visiting the camp.

“We have visited many zoos, but we cannot see the elephants this close,” Ms. Arshu remarked. S. Yuvaraj from Mettupalayam said he regularly visited the camp’s inauguration every year with his family. Many of the visitors engaged in video calls with their family members to show the elephants, apart from taking selfies and photos using their smartphones.

HR&CE Minister Sevvoor S. Ramachandran, Minister for Municipal Administration S.P. Velumani and Minister for Forests Dindigul C. Sreenivasan inaugurated the camp at around 6 p.m.

Despite the COVID-19 restrictions, over a hundred visitors including AIADMK cadre and general public were present to witness the inaugural event. Restrictions on visitors will be implemented from Tuesday, according to the officials. The 48-day-long rejuvenation camp will end on March 27.

Second postponement

The annual rejuvenation camp that is being conducted on the banks of River Bhavani was postponed to February for the second time in four years.

Sources in the HR&CE Department said the 48-day camp was being held at Thekkampatti since 2012 and it usually began in December or January. However, the camp that was slated in December 2016 was postponed following the demise of former Chief Minister Jayalalithaa. It was subsequently held in February 2017 and the camp was cut short from 48 days to 30 days, the sources said.

The 2018 camp began in January and the 2019 camp began in December. In 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic played spoilsport, following which the State government decided to begin the camp this February, the sources added.

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Printable version | Apr 15, 2021 11:48:19 AM |

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