10 February 2017

2017 Elephant Rejuvenation Camp Update

The below is an abridged narrative update from a Taml Nadu newspaper about the 2017 Elephant Rejuvenation Camp

“At around 5 pm on Wednesday (February 8, 2017), three elephants from Sundaravalli from Tiruchengode and Rukku from Tiruvannamalai, reached the campsite at Thekkampatti and were being offloaded. After having their weight and medical records checked by the veterinary officers on duty, they joined the 16 elephants that had arrived since morning. The remaining 12 of the 31 elephants, scheduled to attend the camp, are expected to turn up by 6 am on Thursday. "Elephants from nearby temples like Lakshmi from Perur, Gomathi from Sankarankoil and Gandhimathi from Tiruvannamalai have arrived," said a representative of the HRCE.

Veterinary officers at the camp began checking the medical records and vaccinations administered to each elephant, as it was being unloaded from the vehicle. "Though we had instructed veterinary officers attached to each of those temples to administer all necessary vaccinations to the elephants during the last week of December or January beginning latest, we are ensuring that they have received the anthrax vaccination among others," said a member of the Animal Husbandry Department.

The delay in conducting the annual elephant rejuvenation camp till the beginning of summer has increased the risk of temple elephants being disturbed by wild elephants at the camp.

With the incoming elephants, forest officers are triple checking their security measures. "We have placed two circles or layers of solar powered hanging fences and a standing electric fence inside the camp," said the Mettupalayam forest officer. "Besides keeping crackers ready to chase away wild elephants, we have erected six watch towers with four anti-poaching watchers in each of them. If the watchers spot a wild elephant, they have been equipped with three government vehicles to chase the animal away. We have also placed 30 temporary watchers and 15 uniformed officers who will watch the camp round-the clock to handle any eventuality."

Environmentalists have always claimed that the Thekkampatti camp site is literally situated on the elephant corridor, increasing risks. With the summer season beginning in the district, many wild elephants are expected to stray outside forests in search of water and for migration. "The fact that all the temple elephants are female does not help either, as male wild elephants are attracted to their smell during migration," said an environmentalist of the Nature Conservation Society (NCS).”

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