Kerala spends Rs 3 crore to capture rogue elephants over four years

Wild elephants
The elephant is referred to as ‘Arikomban’ over its fondness for rice. Photo: Manorama

Kerala has been witnessing frequent incursions of wild elephants into areas of human habitation near forests, causing huge loss of life and property, forcing the Kerala Government to often launch campaigns to capture the jumbos which turn dangerous towards people.

A reply to a query filed under the Right to Information (RTI) Act has now revealed that the state government spent around Rs 3 crore over the last four years to capture rogue wild elephants and tame them at the Forest Department’s elephant shelters.

In the most recent development in this regard, teams of the Forest Department are camping at Munnar to get hold of a tusker who has been wreaking havoc in the area for some time. The elephant is referred to as ‘Arikomban’ over its fondness for rice and tendency to target ration as well as other shops and kitchens where the cereal is stored.

The teams at Munnar have been camping in the region for weeks now and the government has already spent a big amount for the purpose. 

Central aid underutilized
As per the government’s reply to the RTI query, the exact amount spent for capturing wild elephants, shifting them to the shelters and taming the beasts over the last four years was Rs 2,94,11,000. The reply also said that the average expenses for the upkeep of each elephant for a year came to Rs 11.5 lakh.

Meanwhile, the amount allotted by the Central Government to Kerala from 2015 to 2022 to implement measures to check the menace of wild animals was Rs 77 crore, the RTI reply said. However, the state government spent a mere Rs 49 crore of this allocation, the reply added.

Official apathy alleged
At the same time, local people allege that wild elephants invade human areas only because the Forest Department has failed to set up effective barriers on forest boundaries which could prevent such incidents. Incidentally, 48 people have lost their lives in elephant attacks in Munnar and Mattupetty areas. Still, the Forest Department authorities have reportedly adopted a lackadaisical attitude towards the demands of the people to save their lives. Considering the situation, people in many areas are planning protests against the Forest authorities.

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