This comes two days after the Madras High Court passed an interim order directing the Tamil Nadu government to capture the wild elephant.

Wild elephant Chinnathambi captured likely to be relocated to elephant camp soon
news Wildlife Friday, February 15, 2019 - 19:05

The wild elephant Chinnathambi’s excursions in and around Madathukkulam, near Udumalaipettai in Tamil Nadu’s Tiruppur district, came to an end on Friday as he was tranquilised and captured by officials of the forest department. This comes two days after the Madras High Court passed an interim order directing the Tamil Nadu government to capture the wild elephant.

According to reports, the elephant, who was found loitering in sugarcane fields near Udumalaipettai, was shot with a tranquiliser gun and then lured with jackfruits, his favourite fruit. It is being said that the jumbo will be taken to an elephant camp near Top Slip, but an official confirmation on his destination is awaited.

Ordering the elephant’s capture, the Madras HC had ordered that while being captured, the government must not torture or hurt the animal in any manner and directed the Principal Chief Conservator of Forests to take a decision if Chinnathambi has to be sent to the forest or to the camp. The judges had also said that further orders on where to house Chinnathambi permanently will be delivered later.

Chinnathambi was translocated from the Thadagam region on the outskirts of Coimbatore after he was found trampling on crops and causing damage for nearly a year. Following this, forest officials decided to tranquilise Chinnathambi, capture him and then release him into the wilderness.

Chinnathambi was captured by the forest department and released into Annamalai forest range near Topslip in the last week of January. But days after it was sent into the forest, Chinnathambi entered the villages near Pollachi in Coimbatore district and has been roaming around in that area.

When news of Chinnathambi’s movements spread, Forest Minister Dindugal Sreenivasan had said that the government has a larger role to protect the lives of the people and their agricultural fields and that there was no option but to capture him and tame him to be used as a kumki. The minister’s statement had triggered outrage with several people voicing protests against domesticating the elephant and urged the government to leave the animal alone.

The government of Tamil Nadu, however, told the Madras HC that since Chinnathambi keeps coming inside the villages, it will not be of any use to send him the forest again. The government further presented the inputs of the elephant expert Ajay Desai, who had inspected Chinnathambi on February 5 and prepared a report of recommendations based on his inspection. In his report, Ajay Desai had stated that since Chinnathambi’s behaviour has toned down, it would be difficult to send him back to the forest. Ajay Desai had also recommended that the department capture the pachyderm and let it thrive in the elephant camp.   

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