Court appointed panel on ‘Arikomban’ visits affected areas of Idukki

The five-member committee will be deciding on whether the tusker would be kept in captivity or to be relocated.

ByPTI

Published Apr 03, 2023 | 6:08 PM Updated Apr 03, 2023 | 6:08 PM

Arikomban Elephant Kerala

A Kerala High Court-appointed expert committee, tasked with deciding the fate of rice-eating tusker Arikomban, visited the affected areas of the Idukki district and interacted with the residents on Monday, 3 April.

The committee will be deciding on whether the tusker would be kept in captivity or to be relocated.

A senior forest official said the five-member panel arrived in the district and interacted with the locals.

Related: In defence of Arikomban — the ration-​shop raider 

Protests in the area

The panel’s visit comes in the wake of widespread protests in several gram panchayats, including Santhapara and Chinnakanal, bordering the famous hill station of Munnar.

Protesters had on several occasions contended that decisions regarding whether to capture and keep the elephant in captivity were being taken by people sitting in air conditioned offices without finding out the situation on the ground.

The Kerala High Court, on 29 March, constituted the five-member committee to take a decision by 5 April on whether to capture the wild bull elephant and turn it into a captive tusker or relocate it to interior areas of the forest.

The court had expressed its reservations regarding capture and captivity of Arikomban — a moniker earned due to his habit of breaking into homes and ration shops for consuming rice — in view of the various instances of cruelty to captive elephants in Kerala and also the deplorable conditions in which they are held captive in various locations across the state.

Also read: Wayanad still mourns its mascot, Maniyan the tusker 

On 23 March, in a late night sitting, the court had stayed the state government’s decision to tranquilise and capture the tusker on 26 March.

The court’s order had come on a PIL by two animal rights groups — People for Animals (PFA), Trivandum Chapter and the Walking Eye Foundation for Animal Advocacy.

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