*KERALA AGAINST ELEPHANTS* Free Wild Elephants
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In the last eight months, the Kerala Forest Department, caught not one, but three giant tuskers in various locations in the state, and is busy "training" them in order to convert these wild creatures to obedient slave elephants. Kerala forests are a storehouse of a variety of flora and fauna and the biodiversity in these forests is unique in the world ! Eliminating male elephants by capturing them like this will upset the delicate balance in Nature and have repercussions on the ecosystem itself! We must unite and protest against destruction of our forests and our ecosystem.
Since 1971, capturing of elephants in the wild has been forbidden - by law, and is a punishable offence. The Kerala Forest Dept has also stopped capturing and training elephants for the purpose of sale since 1984. However, in 2006, the Forest Dept shocked everyone by going after a perfectly healthy male tusker in the Agasthya Vanam division of Trivandrum district. This elephant, dubbed "Kolakolli", was darted, captured and locked up in a cramped Kraal. The reasons cited were many, the most prominent being the tussle between the tusker and local farmers. The elephant was tortured and brutalized and succumbed to the injuries inflicted on him by the "trainers" right there in his training kraal. A most unnecessary death.
In November of 2014, a female and her male calf were captured, under the pretext of administering some medical treatments, using a tranquilizer gun to immobilize them. The mother and calf were taken to the Konni Elephant Training Camp, in Pathanamthitta district. The mother died, succumbing to the brutal punishments meted out to her, just days after capture. It is clear as day that their target was her boy calf and their intentions were far from honourable. It is also a noticeable, bizarre coincidence that many "abandoned" or "lost" babies are "found" and "rescued" by the Forest Department personnel, turning up at regular intervals, in the forests through out Kerala. All these are mostly male, and in excellent health and have the desired features prescribed for temple elephants. These gorgeous, healthy, rescued elephant calves end up in any one of these Forest Camps at Konni, Kodanad, Kottoor or Muthanga. This is happening even today!
They seem to have gotten bolder and shifted focus from male calves to fully grown tuskers! Recently, three male tuskers, with all the specified attributes of height, looks, tusks and demeanour, etc., were captured by the Kerala Forest Department under the excuse that they were (all three) crop raiders and rogue elephants. These have been locked up in dingy kraals, deprived of basic food and water and rest, with no space to move around, being denied every freedom that a wild elephant is entitled to by Nature. They have languished here in these kraals, being tortured and brutalized with the intentuon to "train" them and put them to work in the forest dept camps. On Nov 22, 2016, a huge tusker, called "Kalloor Komban"(for identification purposes)aged approximately 25 years, was captured in the Wayanad Wildlife Sanctuary. On May 12, 2017, another majestic tusker, "Chullikomban"(henceforth known as "Shiva"), was captured from Kottiyoor, in the Aralam Wildlife Sanctuary, as he had strayed into human habitation and was posing a grave threat to the villagers living there. And on May 30th, 2017, in Attappadi, in the Agali Forest Range, another tusker, "Peelandi"(Now known as Chandrashekharan )was captured for the same reasons as Chullikomban. This elephant Peelandi was darted, and forced into a tiny uncomfortable, narrow Kraal with the help of "kumki" or trainer elephants. Here his formal training has started - his initiation into a hard, sad life of terror and pain and lifelong slavery.
These (elephants) are the victims of man's *injustice* towards wild animals. Trespassing into forest land and destroying the delicate ecosystem there to establish their farms or concrete homes, hotels and businesses, they have essentially occupied land which is not legitimately theirs. And now, when the hapless wild animals with nowhere else to go stray into these human habitation built on land snatched away from forests, and sometimes destroy crops, they are dealt with severely. These people, who encroached in the first place, are now baying for the blood of the wild elephants that have accidentally strayed in to human habitation!
These very people who are trying to establish their claim over this forest land which they encroached upon are now raising a hue and cry about elephants straying into their habitation and destroying crops and property and posing a threat to human life. They are putting pressure on local authorities to capture and/or relocate these "rogue" elephants! Citing man-elephant conflict, Citing man-elephant conflict as the reason, a lot of elephants are being captured and removed from their homes in the wild.
In places like Munnar, Palakkad, Wayanad, Kannur and Nilambur, along the forest fringe, there have been reports of a lot of elephant related death and destruction. The forest department along with people's representatives and local governing bodies, are developing strategies and hatching plans to capture many many more wild elephants and bring them into captivity. In fact, what is required is to have such committees decide on solutions to reduce man-elephant conflict in forest fringe areas and to find alternative means to put an end to the problem of man-wild conflict. Removing elephants from the wild is definitely not the solution. That will only result in a serious imbalance and lead to the destruction, in the long run, of the ecosystem itself! We must find alternate solutions to this man-wild conflict issue and work towards the protection and preservation of our forests and the wild animals that live in them, if we are to preserve ourselves and leave behind a better, safer world for our future generations.
Elephants, just like people, are social creatures, with defined family structure and distinct behaviour patterns. The three tuskers captured by the Kerala Forest Department are all in the prime of life. They are young and viable and capable of producing a generation of healthy, strong, viable progeny that will take the species forward. The Kerala Forest Department's decision to capture and train and thus enslave these three elephants, all in the prime of life, is going to prove to be a huge mistake in the long run. These elephants had a vital role to play in the continuance of the species and in preserving the biodiversity in this region. The lives of these beautiful creatures in already threatened by poaching, the males being hunted down for their ivory.
In the last one year alone, more than fifty male elephants have died in the wild due to various reasons. This alarming figure signals doom and the possible end of this beautiful species in the forests of Kerala.
The haste exhibited by the Kerala Forest Department in capturing these three tuskers is going to cost us! Their irresponsible action is indirectly contributing to the annihilation of the very species they are there to protect!
To contain the damage already done, and to prevent further loss, it is urgent that the captured elephants be released immediately into the safe environment of a Wildlife Sanctuary or National Park somewhere else where they can live in peace and play their part in propagation of their species and preservation and conservation of Nature.
This has to be done immediately to avoid dire consequences that will affect us all irrevocably.
Requesting the intervention of the concerned authorities in this matter and requesting that urgent and immediate action be taken at the earliest in the matter of the three tusker elephants languishing in cramped training kraals in the Kerala Forest Department facilities.
Rajeev N Kurup
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