Arikomban is safe: TN forest dept rubbishes rumours about tusker's ill health

Wild tusker Arikomban.
Wild tusker Arikomban. File photo: Rijo Joseph/Manorama

Chennai: Putting an end to recent controversies and rumours about the whereabouts and health condition of the relocated wild elephant 'Arikomban,' the Tamil Nadu government has confirmed that the jumbo is safe and healthy in the Kalakkad Mundanthurai Tiger Reserve (KMTR) in Thirunelveli district.

According to Tamil Nadu Principal Chief Conservator of Forests and Chief Wildlife Warden Srinivas R Reddy IFS, Arikomban has joined with a new elephant herd.

Arikomban’s capture from Chinnakkanal in Idukki on April 29, 2023, drew national attention. Famous for raiding local ration shops for rice, the tusker also frequently terrorised human settlements. The elephant was also at the centre of legal battles and debates on animal rights.
Initially, the Kerala forest department translocated Arikomban to the Periyar Tiger Reserve but the animal found its way to settlements in Tamil Nadu’s Cumbum. Later, the TN government shifted it to the Upper Kodayar forest area of KMTR.

“He (Arikomban) has adjusted to the new environment. A team from the forest department are tracking his route through the radio collar signals. There is nothing to worry about the animal,” Srinivas Reddy told to Manorama Online. “He is safe in the care of the Tamil Nadu forest department," Srinivas added.

Another concern was his lack of interaction with other elephant herds. "That has also changed. He was seen with a new herd. The animal continues to stay around the Upper Kodayar Dam premises and the reserve forest. He is now very familiar with his new habitat," Srinivas added.

The senior officer also cited security reasons for not releasing recent images of the elephant to the public. The Tamil Nadu forest department last released pictures of Arikomban in January along with his route map and other signal details from the radio collar.

Animal rights activists and ‘Arikomban lovers’ still want to shift the animal to its original habitat in Chinnakkanal. According to officials, the tusker has killed several people over the years, a claim refused by local communities.

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