Tusker Arikompan enters residential areas in Cumbum; power, transport suspended

Chief Wildlife Warden Srinivas R. Reddy said kumkis and elephant vehicles were being sent to where the tusker had been spotted, in order to capture and relocate it

May 27, 2023 12:20 pm | Updated 10:55 pm IST - THENI

A screenshot from a video of Arikompan entering a residential area in Tamil Nadu’s Cumbum on May 27, 2023. Photo: Special Arrangement

A screenshot from a video of Arikompan entering a residential area in Tamil Nadu’s Cumbum on May 27, 2023. Photo: Special Arrangement

Wild tusker Arikompan had entered Cumbum in Theni district, and was seen roaming through the town on May 27 morning, after being spotted near a human habitation in Kumily, Idukki on May 26.

Section 144 has been invoked, prohibiting the residents from stepping out of their dwellings until further orders. As a precautionary measure, electricity had been disrupted since Saturday morning.

Since the elephant was spotted along the Cumbum-Gudalur bypass and near the foothills of the Western Ghats, public transport and vehicle movement were also suspended.

The elephant had roamed many streets in the municipal limits from as early as 8 a.m. and knocked the shutters of a ration shop searching for rice. While some youth followed the pachyderm on their two-wheelers and attempted to take selfie with the animal, from a distance, there was panic all around.

Also read: Kerala’s troublemaking tusker Arikompan still comes for rice

Arikompan has been making the rounds along the Kerala -Tamil Nadu border since April 29, when it was released into the Periyar Tiger Reserve. A few days later, the tusker was seen in Megamalai and mock-charged at a bus in Chinnamanur. After having camped at Megamalai for over a week, the tusker returned to the Kerala border on May 22. Since the night of May 26, it started moving towards the Cumbum-Gudalur stretch and stepped inside the municipal limits.

Watch | Elephant Arikompan in streets of Cumbum
| Video Credit: Special Arrangement

Superintendent of Police Praveen Umesh Dongare, District Forest Officer Samartha, Megamalai Tiger Reserve Deputy Director Anand, forest rangers Muralidharan and Anbu and their ground staff were closely watching the movement of Arikompan and appealed to the residents to stay indoors. With the satellite radio collar installed on the pachyderm, multiple teams were deployed for surveillance.

Pachyderm resting

Forest officials said since 2 p.m., the pachyderm was resting inside a tamarind farm on the outskirts of the Cumbum-Gudalur Salai Road, after the authorities chased it using dummy pistols.

In a press release, Theni Collector R.V. Shajeevana said the prohibitory order would be lifted when the pachyderm moved inside the deep forest.

As the animal moved inside the Cumbum town, a four-wheeler belonging to the Forest Department and an autorickshaw were damaged.

Resident injured

A resident identified as Palraj, son of Sadayandi of Asariyar Street, was injured when the pachyderm attacked. He has been admitted in Theni Government Medical College and Hospital.

The Collector also appealed to the residents to cooperate with the officials.

Two kumkis have been brought to the spot and steps are being taken for chasing the animal into the forest.

(With inputs from L. Srikrishna).

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