Karnan had appeared in a few movies, including Mani Ratnam’s ‘Dil Se’, Mohanlal’s ‘Narasimham’ and the Jayaram starrer ‘Katha Nayagan’.

Tusker Mangalamkunnu Karnan passed away in Keralas Palakkad district on January 28th
news Death Thursday, January 28, 2021 - 17:16

Mangalamkunnu Karnan, a 63-year-old tusker, passed away in Kerala’s Palakkad district around 5 am on Thursday, its owners MA Parameswaran and MA Haridas, known as the Mangalamkunnu brothers, said. “Mourners from places such as Kollam and Kottayam arrived here to pay homage to Karnan. The tusker had a large fan following in Kerala,” Haridas told TNM.

The Facebook page of the Kerala Elephant Owners Federation paid tribute to the elephant with these words in Malayalam: “Thalayeduppinte thampurannu pranamam” (Pranams to the Lord of raised head).

Forest officials in Palakkad said Range Officer Abdul Razak visited the spot and held inquiries on Thursday after getting information about Karnan’s death.

“The elephant had age-related issues,” said an official from the Social Forestry wing of the state Forest Department in Palakkad.

According to Haridas, the tusker’s food intake had reduced for some time now. The exact reason for the death would be known only after the post-mortem, he noted.

Forest Department officials said the carcass would be taken to Walayar where a post-mortem would be conducted by a team comprising the forest veterinary officer, the Palakkad district veterinary surgeon and an expert from the Kerala Veterinary and Animal Sciences University.

“Karnan is one of the popular elephants in Kerala,” an official said. The elephant stood over 9 ft in height (with raised head).

K Rahul, Manager of the Kerala Elephant Owners Federation, explained that though Karnan was 280 cm tall, it would challenge elephants that were even 314 cm in height.

Known to have a calm nature, Karnan had the ability to hold its head raised for a long time. It had won several Thalappokkam competitions, sources reported.

Karnan was brought to Kerala from Uttar Pradesh. Manissery Haridas, an elephant owner, bought the elephant in 1993 and sold it to the Mangalamkunnu brothers in 2000. Mangalamkunnu is located near Cherpulassery in Palakkad district, where the brothers own nearly a dozen captive elephants. Their elephants, particularly Karnan and Ayyappan, are preferred to carry deities during festivals by temple management committees.

Karnan also appeared in a few movies, including Mani Ratnam’s Dil Se in the song ‘Jiya jale’, Mohanlal’s Narasimham and the Jayaram starrer Katha Nayagan.

In 2019 there was controversy relating to Karnan after Chief Wildlife Warden Surendra Kumar flagged the issuance of fitness certificate to the tusker by two veterinarians, overlooking findings in inspection reports that the animal was wounded.

But Karnan stood tall even in death, as hundreds of fans thronged Palakkad on Thursday to pay their tributes to the jumbo that had won their hearts with its calm temperament.

Gladwin Emmanuel is a freelance journalist based in Kerala.

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