Kerala forest dept all set for high-risk operation to tame 'Arikomban'The
operation is scheduled for March 26
Nirmal Jovial, The Week
March 22, 2023
See also this article
on this matter.
On March 26, Idukki in Kerala would witness a high-risk operation to tackle
a rogue tusker 'Arikomban' (rice tusker) that has been creating havoc in
the high ranges for a decade. The tusker, who got this moniker due to his
habit of raiding ration shops, is believed to have killed more than 10
persons and destroyed over 60 houses and shops.
The people of Santhanpara and Chinnakanal have been demanding the capture
of the rogue tusker for a long time now. In 2017, the forest department
made an unsuccessful attempt. Sources say the terrain is the biggest
challenge to capturing the elephant.
This time, there are elaborate preparations to capture the tusker. A
71-member rapid response team, divided in 11 groups, is participating in
the mission. Chief forest veterinary surgeon Dr Arun Zachariah will lead
the team. The plan is to sedate 'Arikomban' using tranquiliser shots and
transfer him to the Kodanadu elephant training centre. The motor vehicle
department and police will ensure protection during this transfer. The fire
brigade and a medical team will be ready to deal with any emergency
situation during the operation.
The operation was originally planned for March 25, but was later put off
for a day. Section 144 will be imposed in selected wards in Santhanpara and
Chinnakanal panchayats on the day of operation. The forest department is
already conducting a mock drill.
As part of its strategy to lure the rogue tusker, the department will set
up a rice bait in a dilapidated building at Chinnakkanal. This building was
destroyed by 'Arikomban' a few years back.
Four kumki elephants (trained captive jumbos used in operations to capture
rogue elephants) will be employed in the operation. Interestingly, sensing
the smell of a kumki elephant 'Vikram' that has been brought for the
operation, 'Chakkakomban' (Jack fruit tusker)—another wild tusker in the
area—swam across Anayinakal dam and reached almost 500m near the captive
elephant. The mahouts of the elephant and the forest department watchers
sent him away by making noise.
Reports suggest the presence of 'Chakkakomban' can affect the success of
the operation to capture 'Arikomban'. 'Mottavalan' and 'Murivalan' are some
of the other wild elephants that cause trouble to the local people in the
region. 'Cigarette Komban', another wild tusker in the region, died last
month because of electrocution.