Mission Arikomban: Permanent solution is to relocate residents, not elephant, observes HC

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Arikomban elephant

Kochi: While considering the petition against 'Mission Arikomban' of the Kerala forest department to capture a wild elephant posing threats to human habitations in Idukki, the Kerala High Court orally observed that all wild elephants could not be relocated and only a balanced stance would be sustainable.

Also read: HC sets up expert committee to study if Arikomban must be captured; asks to radio-collar jumbo

The court on Wednesday noted that capturing Arikomban will not be a solution as another tusker will emerge in the future. Hence, a permanent solution will be the rehabilitation of residents from Chinnakanal, court noted.

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Additional Advocate General Ashok M Cheriyan appeared for the forest department.

The High Court on March 23 had stayed the forest department's move to cage wild jumbo 'Ari Komban' till March 29. A Division Bench of the High Court took the decision on pleas filed by animal rights organisations, challenging the mission planned for March 26.

A large patch of forest, trapped between human inhabitants on one side and the Anayirangal dam on the other, is the home of wild elephants, including Arikomban, aged between 30 and 40 years.

According to the forest department, Arikomban, currently camped at Shankarapandyamettu, has killed 7 persons and destroyed 31 buildings in the locality in the past three months. The elephant got its name ‘Arikomban’ as it used to raid ration shops and houses for consuming rice (Ari).

The district administration had taken unprecedented precautions for the capture of this elephant, as the area of operation is located inside human settlements and in some of Kerala's favourite tourism destinations.

The plans included the invocation of Section 144 of the CrPC in the wards of two panchayats on the day of operation.

The Forest department has brought four Kumki elephants Vikram, Suryan, Kunju and Surendran to Chinnakanal for the mission.

The Forest department was forced to capture this rogue elephant after Arikomban continued to damage properties and ration shops in the area.

The team set up a makeshift ration shop to attract the elephant. A team led by famous veterinarian Dr Arun Zacharia had been deployed tranquilise the elephant.

(With inputs from PTI)

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