Rogue tusker Arikomban enters inhabited area in Kerala’s Kumily; officials drive it back to forest

The jumbo was discovered just a few meters away from a populated area in Kumily, approximately 85 kilometers from its original location in Chinnakkanal.

Human-animal conflict, Arikkomban
The Arikkomban issue is a blatant example of the government's failure to protect the lives of citizens, as guaranteed by Article 21 of the Constitution | File photo

Forest officials reported that Arikomban, the rogue tusker who was recently translocated to Periyar Tiger Reserve, has been sighted wandering in the inland areas of Kumily in Idukki district, Kerala. This has raised concerns among local residents.

The jumbo was found just some metres away from an inhabited area in Kumily, around 85 kilometres away from its original abode Chinnakkanal, on Thursday (May 25) night, they said.

The elephant, notorious for its ration shop raids and love for rice, was spotted in the Rosapookkandam area last night and the wildlife officials fired in the air to drive it back to the forest, a senior forest official said.

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Forest officials have been closely monitoring presence of the translocated tusker through GPS signals from the radio collar attached to it.

“Arikomban was found just six kilometres away from the Kumily town. When it reached some 100 metres away from the inhabited area, we fired in the air to scare the animal and drive it back to the forest,” the official told PTI.

The official said as per their assumption, the jumbo went back to Medakanam in the Thekkady area by Thursday night itself.

When asked whether there is any chance of the elephant going back to Chinnakkanal, he said the possibility is remote as of now.

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“It seems that the animal is moving within a particular circle in the Kerala-Tamil Nadu forest area. As there is plenty of water, it frequently comes back to Periyar Tiger Reserve region,” he added.

A bull elephant notorious for breaking into homes and ration shops to steal rice earning him the moniker of Arikomban or rice-loving tusker in Malayalam, the jumbo had been released into the deep interiors of Periyar Tiger Reserve after tranquilising it through an hours-long mission on April 30.

As the tusker has been radio-collared, signals from it are being received, officials added.

(With agency inputs)