The Tamil Nadu Forest Department, has decided to send back 12-year-old female elephant Deivanai, who has a history of attacking quite a few of her mahouts, to Assam. Deivanai, previously named Prerona, was in the news a few months ago for trampling to death 32-year-old mahout S Kalidasan at Subramaniya Swami Temple in Tiruparankundram. More recently, she had attacked another caretaker at the state-run MR Palayam Elephant Rehabilitation Centre in Trichy, to where she was subsequently shifted from the temple.
Prerona was brought to Tamil Nadu in 2014. Animal activist Antony Rubinâ€™s Right To Information (RTI) query had revealed that Deivanaiâ€™s ownership certificate had expired in March 2017 and that the stateâ€™s forest department had planned to send her back home. Anotny observes, â€śThis drastic step has been taken because they donâ€™t know what to do with the elephant. The elephant has a long history of attacking its mahouts as was revealed in my RTI query.â€ť
â€śBut why this is a welcome move is because the practice of capturing elephants and sending them to other places is still rampant. These elephants don't go back to their original place. This is the biggest problem. This decision might bring about a change,â€ť he adds.
When TNM reached out to Trichy district forest officer (DFO) D Sujatha, she refused to comment on the issue.
Deepak Nambiar of Elephas Maximus Indicus Trust (EMIT), who has been following Deivanaiâ€™s case since the beginning, also agrees and shares that the idea is to end the entire process of illegal capture of elephants. â€śThe ownership papers are in the name of Sri Lila Bora, Golaghat Dist, Assam. There is a letter dated 10032014 from the PCCF, Chennai, to the Hindu Religious and Charitable Endowments stating that the PCO of Assam has given permission to send the six-year old Prerona to Subramaniyaswamy Thirukoil Thirupparang Kundram, Madurai for a period of three years. First of all, how was she in the temple for so long?â€ť he asks.
Lauding the decision as a good move, he adds, â€śWhy this is a trendsetter is because most elephants in Tamil Nadu and Kerala have come from Assam. The numbers must be in hundreds. This needs to stop and this is the pattern we are trying to highlight.â€ť
Deepak also shares that he has been in touch with Kalidasanâ€™s wife. â€śAfter a lot of hesitation, she shared that the incident could have been averted had the forest department been a little more careful with the elephant. A child is now without a father because the officials failed to do their duty.â€ť He also alleges that the family is yet to preceive its proper compensation from the state government.
According to reports, forest officials in Assam have said that the shifting process can be initiated as soon as their counterparts in Tamil Nadu prepare relevant documents for the transfer.