India: Rice-loving wild elephant captured in Kerala

A team of 150 forest officials tranquillised and relocated the tusker that killed six people

By AFP

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Forest officials transporting the elephant in Idukki district. — AFP
Forest officials transporting the elephant in Idukki district. — AFP

Published: Sun 30 Apr 2023, 4:03 PM

Last updated: Sun 30 Apr 2023, 4:04 PM

Indian forest officials have tranquillised and relocated a rice-loving wild tusker elephant that killed at least six people, media reports said.

The male elephant — dubbed Arikomban, or “rice-tusker” — was infamous for raiding shops for rice and grains in the southern state of Kerala.

On Saturday, a team of 150 forest officials caught the elephant, which resisted its captors even after being hit with five tranquilliser shots, the Indian Express newspaper reported.

With its legs tied and eyes bound with a cloth, it was finally pushed and nudged by four kumki elephants — trained elephants used to capture others — into a truck.

It was then fitted with a GPS collar and taken to a wildlife reserve.

This was not the first time that officials had tried to capture the elephant, believed to be around 30 years old.

Arikomban was hit with tranquilliser shots in 2017, but managed to escape.

Last month, bearing in mind his penchant for rice and grains, officials erected a dummy ration shop to lure the elephant, but a court put a stop to the plan, the newspaper reported.

Conservationists blame the rapid expansion of human settlements around forests and key wildlife corridors for an increase in conflicts between people and animals in parts of India.

According to the government, India is home to more than sixty percent of wild Asian elephants.

As per the last elephant census in 2017, India had a recorded elephant population of 29,964.

Last year, Indian officials shot dead a tiger dubbed the “Man-eater of Champaran” that killed at least nine people in the east of the country.


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