Three captive elephants from the Muthanga wildlife sanctuary in Kerala began their three-month training to become kumki elephants, at the Theppakadu elephant camp in the Mudumalai Tiger Reserve on Friday.
The elephants, named Suryan, Neelakandan, and Surendran, will be trained to become kumkis or trained elephants that can be used for operations to trap wild elephants and help mitigate human-animal conflicts.
The animals will first be trained to obey basic commands, and subsequently to carry out complex tasks.
The Kerala Forest Department had sought the help of its Tamil Nadu counterpart to help train the animals. The Theppakadu elephant camp was chosen on account of the expertise of its staff in training kumkis.
The training was inaugurated by Deputy Director of the Mudumalai Tiger Reserve (core and buffer areas), Shenbaga Priya, along with the Conservator of Forest Wildlife (Palakkad District) B. Anjan Kumar.
Officials said that there was great cooperation between the Kerala and Tamil Nadu Forest Departments, with kumki elephants from the Theppakadu camp being used in the past for operations in Kerala. They added that the Nilgiris’ border with Kerala had a high incidence of human-animal conflict, and the Forest Departments of both states would need to work together to help mitigate such conflicts.