It is a heart warming story of a 22-year-old injured male elephant that became friendly with people who nursed it back to health.
The wild elephant with its long tusks was first spotted in Sigur Range in the The Nilgiris North forest division more than a year ago. It was seen staggering around with a wounded trunk. Because of the injury, the elephant was unable to forage and feed itself.
But help came to the animal in the guise of Mark, who ran a private resort in Sigur. Mark began feeding the elephant and even named him Rivaldo, who began to make regular visits to the area. This continued till Mark passed away.
Rivaldo continued to visit the area and returned as there was no one feed the animal. Rivaldo’s wound flared up once again and weakness set in.
Wildlife enthusiasts urged the Forest Department to do something about the elephant’s condition. Pandan, a forest staffer, began leaving fodder mixed with medicines for the elephant and the wound gradually healed.
It is a common sight now to see Rivaldo following Pandan wherever he goes. Pandan just has to call out and the elephant emerges at the forest boundary.
Rivaldo has become a major crowd-puller with tourists thronging a bridge near Sigur to have a glimpse of the friendly jumbo. Some even try taking selfies.
Sensing the potential danger as it is still a wild elephant, the Forest Department has exclusively earmarked an employee to monitor Rivaldo and its behavioural pattern.
“Rivaldo may be friendly, but is still a wild animal and its behaviour could change any time. Human and vehicle noise could upset him,” said C. Badrasamy, Divisional Forest Officer. It would be prudent, he said, if tourists kept a safe distance and refrained from teasing or disturbing the elephant.