July 09 2020
No immediate plan to tame wild elephant as kumki, govt. tells court
05 February 2019

‘Will take a final decision after obtaining expert opinion’

The Forest Department on Monday informed the Madras High Court that it did not plan to tame 25-year-old Chinnathambi, a translocated wild elephant of Thadagam valley near Coimbatore, as a kumki (wild elephant trained to control other elephants) and that a final decision would be taken only after obtaining expert opinion.

Appearing before a Division Bench of Justices S. Manikumar and Subramonium Prasad, Advocate-General Vijay Narayan said the Department first decided to take the opinion of Ajay Desai, a consultant to the World Wildlife Fund and a member of the Asian Elephants Specialist Group of the International Union for Conservation of Nature.

PIL plea

The submission was made during an urgent hearing of a public interest litigation petition filed by People for Cattle in India.

Fearing that Chinnathambi could be tamed into a kumki, the non-governmental organisation sought to restrain the Forest Department from capturing, taming, tranquillising or harming the elephant.

Explaining the circumstances in which the elephant had to be lodged in a camp at Amaravati Cooperative Sugar Mills, the A-G said two wild elephants, Vinayagam and Chinnathambi, had been causing havoc in the villages near the forest areas by raiding agricultural crops because they were used to eating soft food.

This led to a man-animal conflict, with villagers going to the extent of pelting them with stones and bursting crackers to scare them away. He informed the court that Vinayagam had killed an employee of the Forest Department.

The A-G said attempts were made to chase Vinayagam and Chinnathambi into the forests. While the former was safe inside the Mudumalai forest, the latter had returned to human habitation, forcing the Department to capture him.

Chinnathambi was now in the sugar mill and was being guarded by two kumkis, he said. “If we release him into the forests now, both of them might join together and cause havoc once again.” After recording his submissions, the judges adjourned the PIL petition to February 11 for filing of a counter affidavit.



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