Favourable terrain helped TN complete Mission Arikomban 2.0 faster: Kerala's chief vet

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

Idukki: Favourable terrain in Cumbum might have helped Tamil Nadu forest officials capture and relocate Arikomban faster than their Kerala counterparts, said Dr Arun Zachariah, the chief veterinary officer of Kerala forest department who headed the first mission at Chinnakanal in Idukki.

“The terrain in Cumbum, from where the jumbo was captured by Tamil Nadu officials, was straight and smooth as compared to the challenging topography of Chinnakanal. I had to wait and watch for 13 hours to dart the jumbo," he said.

This could be the reason why Tamil Nadu forest officials and the members involved in the relocating mission were able to load the jumbo, with the help of three kumki elephants, to the truck without much hardship, he said.

He told Onmanorama that members of the darting team did discuss with him about tranqulising the animal. "However, just because the second mission was quicker than the first one at Chinnakanal, we cannot say that Arikomban has become weak," he said.

"I can’t talk about its health without inspecting it. The animal had a three-day-old fight wound on its trunk when we captured Arikomban,” Dr Zachariah said.

Arikomban was translocated to Muthukkuli forest near Mundanthurai Tiger Reserve after a day in captivity. Photo: Manorama

Within one month, Arikomban has been captured and relocated twice. It is now 470 km away from its native forest in Chinnakanal. But Dr Zachariah did not rule out the possibility of Arikomban raiding human habitat even after the second translocation.

Kerala Forest Department sources also said that the animal still might enter into human settlements looking for rice as it did at Chinnakanal and Periyar Tiger Reserve in Kerala and Srivilliputhur-Megamalai Tiger Reserve in Tamil Nadu.

They say that the animal may drift to the human habitats in Papanasam on the eastern side of Kalakad Mundanthurai Tiger Reserve, which lies at an air distance of only 5 to 6 km from the forest where the jumbo was released.

But there is less possibility of Arikomban reaching Peppara Wildlife Sanctuary in Thiruvananthapuram.

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