This is a petition seeking the re-union and release of all the six wild elephants caught during the recent elephant capture operation held at Thiruvanamalai in Tamilnadu state. The operation was christened as ‘Operation Malai’ . The operation was intended to catch the herd of elephants that were roaming in human habitations over last 2 years and creating loss to agriculture and panic among the people living in hamlets. The Forest department has shifted the elephants to two of its elephant training centers in Mudhumalai and Topslip both of which are distant apart and falls under different zones of Western Ghats. The plan is to train them and make them ‘Kumki’ elephants.
A brief history about these elephants
Even though there are many theories going around regarding the origin of these herd of elephants, the close to reality theory says that these herd of elephants originally belonged to a larger group of elephants that had migrated long back from Bannerghatta National park in Karnataka to Sri Venkateshwara sanctuary in Andhra Pradesh. It was bigger group of elephants consisting of as many as 50 elephants. Andhra Pradesh did not have elephants at least in its 300 years of past history and the forests there are not really conducive for elephant population that need lot of fodder and water. Hence over a period of time many of the elephants in this group died of starvation and conflict with humans. The rest of elephants returned back to Banneghatta through the same path. But some smaller groups stuck to forests near Palamenar, Tirupattur and Javadu hills. This herd of six elephants was the ones that got stuck near Javadu hills and Tirupattur range. This group originally consisted of 8 elephants including an adult male bull elephant and an adult female elephant. Almost one year back the adult female died after giving birth to a still born calf .It died one month after giving birth possibly due to the mental trauma of giving birth near an agricultural land surrounded by marauding humans. This group of 8 elephants was constantly on move for last 2 years from one patch of forest to another in search of fodder and water. As most of the areas where this group roamed was devoid of any continuous forest patch, this herd was in constant conflict with human beings living in the villages. Every passing day had been traumatic for this herd of elephants and also they were continuously driven from pillar to post by people by putting crackers, throwing stones, shouting at them etc... Hence this herd of elephants was under constant mental trauma. Since the death of the adult female, the herd lost its direction further and had been at the mercy of people most the time. The adult bull elephant also moved into the forests of Tirupattur and never joined the group again. As fodder was scarce in the dry forests of Krishnagiri districts, mostly they had to depend on agricultural resources like ragi, sugarcane and paddy to feed themselves and the calves in the herd. This lead to massive conflict.
That was when the government and forest department took up the matter and decided to tranquilize the elephants and translocate them to a different forest area. The operation was called Operation’Malai’.A lot of debate happened on whether to capture and keep them or to release them in a safe forest area. After lot of discussions, it looks like the forest department had decided to keep them under captivity and train them. That too they have separated the herd and taken few elephants to the Mudhumalai camp and others to the Topslip camp. The herd has four juvenile males, one sub adult female and one adult female.
Why demanding re-union and freedom for elephant herd
We know that elephants are social animals and are next only to human beings in their social bonding and individual attachment. They live in herds and are led by senior most female elephant called ‘Matriarch’. The juvenile male elephants stay in the group till they are 10 to 12 years old, before the natural weaning process happens and they leave the herd. They look for each other’s support in need of help or facing a calamity. In this case, this herd was under traumatic condition for almost last 3 years and they never enjoyed pure, serene forests all through their lives. Also the herd consists of 4 healthy juvenile male elephants that need support of older elephants and further they can grow to become matured bull elephants, thus help fighting the skewed sex ratio among elephants.
This herd of elephants rampaged on the agricultural fields for no fault of theirs. We all know that most of the forests tracts in Eastern Ghats are under the iron grips of sand, granite and mining mafia. Encroachment is an even bigger program. These two factors are driving or killing all the remaining wildlife in Krishnagiri and Dharmapuri districts of Tamilnadu. These two factors have done maximum damage to the forests of Krishnagiri in last 10 years and these herds of elephants are also victims of the same. Hence it goes without saying that for no fault of theirs, these herd of elephants should not be put in captivity and chained for rest of their lives. Hence we request that their reunion should happen and freedom should be granted to them so that they can live a peaceful life in much safer forests, where they can live, mingle with other herds, multiply and live happily. After all Freedom is the birthright of all living organisms on earth.
We request all well-wishers, Nature lovers, conservationists and more over people with good heart to support and sign in this petition demanding ‘re-union and release of all the elephants in this herd together in a safer, continues and protected forests’. We are sure the Government of Tamilnadu is very conservation friendly and will support this move.