It seems Arikkomban will finally find a home in Parambikulam Tiger Reserve. The Supreme Court on Monday (April 17) refused to interfere with the Kerala High Court direction to translocate the “rice-eating” tusker from the Munnar-Chinnakanal area in Idukki district to the tiger reserve in Palakkad.
The three-judge Bench headed by Chief Justice of India DY Chandrachud dismissed the appeal filed by the Kerala government against the high court order, noting that an expert committee had recommended the translocation of the tusker.
“You have experts. Your experts have made a recommendation. The state government can’t now also sit and say it will do something over and above it,” said the Bench. “We will not interfere,” it added.
Protests in Parambikulam
The Kerala High Court on April 5 directed that the elephant be captured, radio-collared, and translocated to Parambikulam following the recommendation of the expert committee it set up. The committee had been appointed by the high court to decide whether to relocate the bull elephant or keep it in captivity.
However, it led to protests by the residents of Palakkad because Arikkomban has earned notoriety in Idukki for raiding shops for grains for at least five years. The tusker has even killed seven persons.
On April 10, Kerala Forest Minister AK Saseendran had said the government could not possibly move court for a review of its order every time people of an area objected to the elephant’s relocation. However, the state did file a review petition against the April 5 order, but the high court dismissed it.
SC dismisses state’s proposal
The state had initially ordered that Arikkomban be tranquilised and captured. However, in March, the high court stayed the state government’s order after two animal rights groups, People for Animals (PFA), Trivandrum Chapter, and the Walking Eye Foundation for Animal Advocacy filed a PIL.
The court had also said that resettling people in an elephant habitat was the “root of the entire problem” after the expert committee said in its report that the area the tusker was roaming was traditionally an elephant habitat.
The Supreme Court on Monday took note of the submissions of the government that it was difficult to translocate the tusker. “The relocation of the elephant is very difficult in a small state like Kerala,” the counsel for the state government argued, saying that the state wanted to capture the animal, study it, and then release it.
But the Bench, which also comprised justices PS Narasimha and JB Pardiwala, did not agree to the proposal.
(With agency inputs)