‘Operation Arikomban’: Kerala HC rejects Forest dept plea to capture elephant

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In a recent development, the Kerala High Court has dismissed the Forest Department’s plea to tranquilize and capture Arikomban, an elephant notorious for straying into civilian areas such as Chinnakkanal. Instead, the court has mandated that the elephant be placed in captivity at the Kodanadu elephant camp.

The court has directed the Forest Department to adopt an alternative approach by tracking the elephant, tranquilizing it, and subsequently affixing a radio collar around its neck to monitor its movements. Emphasizing the exploration of non-intrusive methods to prevent the elephant from entering residential areas, the high court suspended ‘Operation Arikomban’ until the specified deadline on Wednesday.

Acknowledging that capturing the elephant should be a last resort, the court highlighted the significance of considering alternatives. The suggested method involves attaching a tracking collar to monitor the elephant’s whereabouts, thereby avoiding the need for immediate capture.

Prior to this decision, the Forest Department and Idukki district administration had mobilized 11 units of the Rapid Response Team, comprising 71 officers, to execute ‘Operation Arikomban.’ This operation aimed to capture the wild elephant, which had caused property damage in Munnar and surrounding regions of Kerala. However, with the court’s intervention, the focus has shifted towards employing less intrusive measures to address the issue at hand.

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