Return of translocated elephants can't be ruled out: Dr Arun Zachariah

Dr Arun Zachariah
Dr Arun Zachariah, Chief Veterinary Surgeon of Kerala Forest Department

Kozhikode: Even as people of Chinnakanal area in Idukki district heaved a sigh of relief with the capture and shifting of wild tusker Arikomban which had posed a threat to their lives and property, the vet behind the operation sounded caution.

There are instances when elephants have travelled over a hundred kilometres to return to their original place, said Dr Arun Zachariah, the Chief Veterinary Surgeon of the Kerala Forest Department who played a key role in the mission to capture of Arikomban from Chinnakanal and its subsequent release in the Periyar Tiger Reserve.

He told Manorama News that the question of whether Arikomban would return depends on how he gets familiarised with the new surroundings. At present, Arikomban is in a place where food and water are available in plenty, the top vet explained.

“In the case of Arikomban we cannot say anything for sure. The most important factor is how the elephant gets familiarised with the new surroundings. Arikomban was released in a place where the necessary food and water for elephants are available in abundance. But there are also a number of other elephants in the area. We don't know how Arikomban will adapt to this situation. In places such as Karnataka, elephants have returned to their original place by travelling over 100 to 120 km,” Dr Arun said.

He clarified that Arikomban was healthy even though he has some injuries. “There is a wound in the trunk of Arikomban. The right eye too has some problems. In addition to these, he has injuries suffered in fights with other elephants. The elephant was released into the forest after administering medicines to recover from these wounds,” Dr Arun added.

There were reports that Arikomban, which crossed the border into the Tamil Nadu forest area, was returning to Kerala territory. The information at present is that Arikomban is moving along the border area in the forest. Signals from the satellite radio caller fixed on Arikomban were lost for over 24 hours since the wee hours of Tuesday, but they are being received now as per the Forest Department updates.

As per the signals received yesterday morning, Arikomban has reached 5 km near the forest area in Tamil Nadu.

Even though the Forest Department has deployed watchers to monitor Arikomban, they are yet to trace the elephant. 

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