Grief too, as Arikompan is forced out of Chinnakkanal
The residents of Chinnakkanal heaved a sigh of relief when Arikompan was trapped by the Forest department on Saturday. But there were also those pained by the sight of the animal being shipped away.
Palolil Thomas and his wife Vijayamma, who stood on a way-side rock to get a glimpse of the animal on the truck, could not hide their grief. “Arikompan was like a member of our family. We are going to miss him a lot,” said Ms. Vijayamma.
‘Not a solution’
Mr. Thomas was of the view that capturing of the tusker was not going to address the real issue on the ground. “It is not an effective way to check the issue of man-animal conflict. The Forest department has failed to ensure proper food to the wild elephants in Chinnakkanal,” said Mr. Thomas.
Interestingly, Mr. Thomas was attacked by the tusker in 2010. “I was a lottery seller at Chinnakkanal and came under the elephant’s attack while returning home. The area was covered in thick fog and I failed to notice the tusker. I am a living victim of wild elephant attack. The Forest department is yet to give me adequate compensation,” said Mr. Thomas.
“Actually, the land is owned by wild elephants and it is the people who entered their homeland. The elephants have full right to live in this land,” added Ms. Vijayamma.
The tribespeople in the area too seemed content with their life alongside wild elephants. Mariyappan, a resident of Chempakathozu Kudi, said barring the attacks on houses, these elephants posed no real threat to human life. “We suspect that the tusker kept attacking houses due to lack of food in the forests,” said Mariyappan.
‘A big relief’
However, peoples’ representatives welcome the Forest department’s decision to capture Arikompan. “The decision will come as a big relief to the people in Chinnakkanal and Santhanpara panchayats,” said Santhanpara panchayat president Liju Varghese.
While the residents of Chinnakkanal witnessed Arikompan’s translocation live, the rest of Kerala remained glued to their television sets, watching the process unfold by the minute.