Arikomban stays within 3-km radius of release site; food untouched, water barrels with medicine overturned

The rogue wild tusker Arikomban translocated from Idukki's Chinnakannal to the Periyar Tiger Reserve. Photo: Manorama News

Kumali: The rogue wild tusker Arikomban, who was translocated from Idukki's Chinnakannal to the Periyar Tiger Reserve on Sunday, has moved into the deep forest.

The tusker is currently hovering within a 3-km radius from the site of release. Though forest officials arranged stacks of grass at different spots, the elephant has not touched these.

Meanwhile, two of the water barrels mixed with medicine for the tusker were found in an overturned state. Though a herd of six elephants approached the tusker, it retreated.

According to the Forest Department, the elephant has begun acclimating to the new habitat of Thekkady forest.

An eight member team including a veterinary doctor is observing the elephant.

The forest personnel have started receiving signals from the GPS fitted around the tusker and is continuously monitoring it. The elephant, which is healthy, is now in the Seeniyaroda region and there is little chance of it trespassing into human habitatst.

Wound in Arikomban’s trunk

Meanwhile, the elephant suffered a relatively deep wound in its trunk while being translocated to the Periyar Reserve from Chinnakanal. The officials administered medicine to it, before releasing the animal. The injury may have happened while being pushed into the lorry or en route the journey. The tusker had a fight with Chakkakomban a day before the mission and suffered injuries, the taskforce team said, adding that medicine was administered before releasing it into the wild.

Forest Department officials approached Arikomban after the tusker was tranquilised. Photo: Manorama

Mission Arikomban

The rogue jumbo, known for its strong penchant for rice, had terrorized the Chinnakanal region of Idukki for three decades, raiding houses and ration shops in search of grains, besides trampling to death at least seven persons.

The tusker was translocated in a mission led by Forest Chief Veterinary Officer Dr Arun Zachariah. The first day of the mission was unsuccessful, as the jumbo remained elusive. However, the Task Force team spotted it on the second day, and it took five shots to tranquilize the behemoth. Still, dramatic scenes unfolded as the mighty tusker fought back against the four kumkis, and tried his best to free himself. However, it was pushed into the specially-built cage placed at the back of a lorry at last and translocated to the Periyar Reserve.

The mission was finally accomplished at 4.30 am on Sunday morning when it was released into the sprawling Seeniyaroda forest region, close to the Tamil Nadu border. According to Forest officials, the mission got delayed much, following adverse weather conditions. The heavy rains on the intermittent night prevented the vehicle carrying the jumbo from reaching its targeted destination inside the Reserve. Finally, the tusker was released, at least two km away from the predetermined spot.

Residents of Chinnakanal click photographs on their mobile phones as wild tusker Arikomban is being translocated in a lorry to the Periyar Wildlife Sanctuary on Saturday. Photo: Manorama

The elephant, meanwhile, completely woke up from the tranquilizer shots and became energetic. While getting out of the vehicle, it charged toward the taskforce. However, the alert Forest officials shot gunfire into the air, forcing the elephant to retreat deep inside the forest, the officials said.

Meanwhile, the reaction of the masses in Kumily astonished the Forest officials. They expected a massive protest from the public while bringing the rogue Arikomban. A curfew was clamped and a large contingent of police personnel deployed, foreseeing this. However, the people accorded a reception to the jumbo by conducting pujas and shouting his name.

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