Translocated wild tusker Arikomban loner again, strays from herd

A photograph of Arikomban claimed to be taken on July 15. Photo: Twitter/@supriyasahuias

Thiruvananthapuram: Wild tusker Arikomban, relocated from Chinnakanal region in Kerala to Tamil Nadu, is leading a solitary life once again.

The elephant, which befriended a herd of elephants in Pudurnadu earlier, has strayed from the group.

Arikomban is still in the Upper Kodayar forest area of ​​Tirunelveli's Kalakad Mundanthurai Tiger Reserve (KMTR). Kodayar forest area is in Agasthyarkoodam on the Kerala-Tamil Nadu border.

The elephant was released in the area in the first week of June after it was caught near Pachanampatti in Theni district of Tamil Nadu.

The elephant's route is being tracked at the Periyar Tiger Sanctuary through a radio collar signal. Kerala forest department also receives information about elephant movement through Kanyakumari DFO.

“There is no concern regarding the health status of Arikomban. It has no injuries,” Srinivas Reddy, Tamil Nadu Chief Wildlife Warden and Principal Chief Conservator of Forests said.

Tamil Nadu released photos and videos of the elephant four times after its relocation. The halt in release of pictures, however, led to widespread suspicion on the elephant's health status.

Convenor of Protectors of Environment and Animal Life MK Sureshkumar alleged that Tamil Nadu forest department officials tortured the elephant when it was caught near Cumbum. He alleged that Arikomban is kept in a detention centre within the forest at Muthukuzhi area of ​​Upper Kodayar. However, the Tamil Nadu Forest Department clarified that the allegations are not true and that the elephant is still healthy in Upper Kodayar. The Kerala Forest Department also confirmed this after checking the signal.

Arikomban's capture from Chinnakanal on April 29 had caught national attention. The tusker had terrorised the region with frequent raids in human settlements. The elephant had reportedly killed humans.

The tusker was named Arikomban after its penchant for rice, which is a portmanteau of two Malayalam words, ari (rice) and komban (tusker). Initially, the Kerala forest department translocated Arikomban to the Periyar tiger reserve but it found its way to settlements in Tamil Nadu's Cumbum.

Later, the TN government launched a second translocation mission and shifted Arikomban to KMTR on June 5.

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