The Madras High Court on Thursday directed the Forest Department to file a status report on Monday listing the behavioural traits of 25-year-old Chinna Thambi, a translocated wild elephant of Thadagam valley near Coimbatore, and the steps taken so far to rehabilitate him.
A Division Bench of Justices S. Manikumar and Subramonium Prasad issued the direction after Additional Government Pleader (Forests) S.V. Vijay Prashanth informed the court that the elephant was now having fun in a camp at Amaravathi Co-operative Sugar Mills in Udumalpet, Coimbatore.
“He has begun to play with the two kumkis (aggressive captive elephants trained by the Forest Department to bring other elephants under control) that were deputed in the sugar mill to guard him,” the AGP told the court and undertook to file a detailed status report on its condition by Monday.
The interim direction was issued on a public interest litigation petition filed by animal lover S. Muralidharan of Chennai seeking a direction to Tamil Nadu Pollution Control Board to close down all illegal brick kilns in the Thadagam valley since they were the reason for wild elephants straying into human habitations. His counsel S.P. Chockalingam said the ever increasing population of Coimbatore city and its expanding territorial limits had led to the construction of a huge number of residential buildings.
Such constructions had led to the mushrooming of unauthorised brick kilns in the district.
Illegal brick kilns
Claiming that many illegal brick kilns had been established in the Thadagam valley and that they scoop out the soil from all over the valley, including from the elephant migratory paths, the counsel said such disturbance to the natural movement of the animals was the main reason for frequent man-animal conflicts.
He said the animals were being forced out of their traditional foraging range and end up getting accustomed to eating crops in human habitations, mainly due to the activities of the brick kilns.
Further, the palmyrah stems used by the kilns as firewood exude a strong scent of alcohol and attract the elephants into human habitations, Mr. Chockalingam said.