Arikomban back at Periyar Reserve area where it was released

Arikomban was last spotted at the Senior Oda area in the Periyar Reserve. File photo: Manorama

Kumily: Wild tusker Arikomban was spotted on Monday near the place where it was released late last month in the Periyar National Park and Wildlife Sanctuary after its capture from its original habitat in Idukki's Chinnakanal. It made its presence felt by vandalizing a makeshift tent of Forest Department watchers on Sunday.

Arikomban was last spotted at the Senior Oda area in the Periyar Reserve.

Of late the tusker, which is notorious for raids on human settlements apparently in search of its favourite food rice, was roaming in Tamil Nadu's Meghamalai after crossing over from the Periyar Reserve.

Meghamalai mountain range is in Theni destrict of Tamil Nadu. Arikomban had strayed here about a week after its translocation. The elephant was tranquilised and captured from Chinnakanal and later released in the Periyar Reserve.

TN Forest Dept vigil continues

Four days ago, the elephant had entered the borders of Kerala forest zone from the Tamil Nadu side. The TN Forest Department does not rule out the possibility of its return to the forests in its jurisdiction. Teams deployed for monitoring and surveillance have been directed to remain there. Regulation for tourists arriving in Meghamalai fearing attacks by Arikomban has not been lifted yet.

Online fundraiser for Arikomban

Thodupuzha: Arikomban's fandom has grown ever since its antics came into limelight beyond Chinnakanal where it had been terrorising locals occasionally for years. An online ‘animal lovers group’ has allegedly collected lakhs of rupees through a campaign titled ‘a sack of rice for Arikomban’.

The fund collection was done in the name of ensuring food and medical aid for Arikomban. Money has been collected even from Non-Resident Indians (NRIs).

Another social media fund collection in the name of Arikomban was said to be for filing a case with the Supreme Court to bring the tusker back to Chinnakanal.

Police scrutiny on

A petition has been filed with the High Court on Monday seeking an investigation into the fund collection drives. The State Police Special Branch authorities have also confirmed that they have got directions to conduct a preliminary investigation into the fund collection in the name of Arikomban.

The complaint alleges that fund collection was through the WhatsApp group started by a few Ernakulam natives on April 30, titled 'Ennum Arikombanoppam' (Always with Arikomban).

Other members of the group alleged that about Rs 8 lakh has been collected from the NRIs in the group even before registering it as a society. Minister for Forest and Wildlife A K Saseendran had clarified recently that a few people had collected up to Rs 7 lakh for Arikomban.

Certain farm organizations have also alleged that fund collection is in the name of Arikomban.

At present, there are many Facebook and Instagram accounts as well as online fan pages in the name of Arikomban.

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