Mission to capture Arikompan likely to cost ₹10 lakh

Two more kumki elephants – Surendaran and Kunju — set to reach Chinnakkanal soon

March 23, 2023 07:26 pm | Updated 08:13 pm IST - IDUKKI

Vikram and Surya, two of the four kumki elephants brought to Chinnakkanal in Idukki for Operation Arikomban.

Vikram and Surya, two of the four kumki elephants brought to Chinnakkanal in Idukki for Operation Arikomban. | Photo Credit: SPECIAL ARRANGEMENT

The Forest department on Thursday continued with the preparations for darting a wild tusker locally known as Arikompan at Chinnakkanal in Idukki.

According to officials, Forest minister A.K. Saseendran will reach Munnar on Saturday to review ‘Mission Arikompan.’ The Minister said it is expected to complete the mission of tranquillising Arikompan on Sunday.

According to Forest department officials, the mission is expected to cost ₹10 lakh.

 “An amount of ₹4 lakh has already been spent for the making of a kraal at Kodanad to accommodate Arikompan after its capture. If it takes longer to complete the mission, it will incur more cost,” said a senior department official.

“The cost of the kraal, however, excludes the cost of the timber used. The Forest department felled 128 eucalyptus trees near the Munnar Central Nursery area for making it,” said the official.

Rogue tusker Arikompan in a tea plantation at Periyakanal on Thursday.

Rogue tusker Arikompan in a tea plantation at Periyakanal on Thursday.

Two more kumki elephants – Surendaran and Kunju — will reach Chinnakkanal on Friday or Saturday. Two other kumki elephants – Surya and Vikram – are already camping at Chinnakkanal for the darting operation.

The Forest department has been ensuring round-the-clock security to prevent attacks from other wild elephants on the kumki elephants. “Sensing the presence of the kumki elephants, another wild tusker in the area, locally known as Chakkakompan, swam across the Anayirankal dam and reached almost 500 m close to Vikram recently,” said an official.

Meanwhile, a petition was filed before the Kerala High Court seeking a directive to the State government and the Chief Wildlife Warden to translocate Arikomban to a deep forest area using scientific methods in the event of it being tranquillised and captured.

In its petition, People for Animal, Thiruvananthapuram chapter, and others said that as per Section 11 of the Wild Life (Protection) Act, the Chief Wildlife Warden can take three decisions – firstly, to hunt/kill a wild animal; secondly, to translocate and rehabilitate the animal to a forest; and thirdly, keep the animal in captivity. Killing or hunting a wild animal could be ordered only if it was impossible to capture, tranquillize and translocate the animal.

The petitioners pointed out that destructive and unscientific method of capturing an elephant and relocating it from its natural habitat to an artificial habitat was against the spirit of the law.

The tranquillization operation is scheduled on Sunday.

(with input from Kochi bureau)

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