The Kerala High Court on Wednesday decided to constitute an expert committee to identify hot spots of human-animal conflicts in the state and come up with long-term solutions for the problem.
The court sought suggestions from the state government on who all should be part of the expert panel, and listed the matter for hearing on May 17, a lawyer associated with the case said.
A special bench of Justices A K Jayasankaran Nambiar and Gopinath P also praised the work of the forest officials who tranquilised and translocated the rice-eating tusker, ‘Arikomban’, from the Chinnakanal area of Idukki district to the deep interiors of the Periyar Tiger Reserve. The court was hearing a PIL by two animal rights groups — People for Animals (PFA), Trivandrum Chapter and the Walking Eye Foundation for Animal Advocacy — opposing the government decision to keep the elephant in captivity and train it to become a kumki elephant. Kumkis are captive elephants trained for use in trapping and capturing wild elephants. While the relief sought by the two NGOs, represented by advocate Bhanu Thilak, have been granted, the court decided not to close the matter in view of the need for a long-term solution to the problem of human-animal conflicts in the state.
The detailed order of the court is not yet available.
The court’s decision to explore long-term solutions assumes importance as the removal of ‘Arikomban’ has not solved the elephant attack problem that the people of Chinnakanal were facing. The day after the rice-eating tusker was removed from the area, another bull elephant, ‘Chakkakomban’, along with its herd demolished a temporary shed there. ‘Chakkakomban’, so called for its fondness for jackfruit (chakka), was already active in the Chinnakanal area of Idukki when Arikomban was also present there.