The Kerala government would set up a first-of-its-kind elephant rehabilitation centre at an outlay of ₹105 crore, to take care of elephants that were either orphaned or abandoned.
Kottoor, an ecotourism village situated nearly 35km from Thiruvananthapuram, would soon host the country’s first-ever elephant rehabilitation centre. Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan had inaugurated the phase-1 of the project last month.
The rehabilitation centre would house an elephant museum, mahout training centre, a well-equipped veterinary hospital and crematorium for the elephants.
Former wildlife warden Shajikumar told PTI that the facility intends to take care of the orphaned or abandoned elephants.
“The centre can accommodate 50 elephants and a residential facility for 80 mahouts has been arranged. There will be administration blocks, tourist cafeteria spread over 56 hectares of land,” Mr. Shajikumar, who formerly headed the project, said.
The Kottoor elephant rehabilitation centre is also planning to accommodate aged captive elephants. P.S. Easa, a member of the three-member technical committee of Koottoor elephant rehabilitation centre, said the project was a comprehensive programme to provide an opportunity to study elephants.
Elaborating, he said the main objective was to ensure that elephants, which are orphaned or abandoned could be provided a facility for a better treatment.
“Basically rehabilitation involves sending the elephants back in to the wild. But these days it’s quite difficult to implement. If a wild elephant is caught in Wayanad, the locals may not agree to release it back there itself. In such cases, this Kottoor rehabilitation centre can take care of them,” he said.
Noting that the rehabilitation centre would facilitate a lot of research, a Ph.D scholar of National Institute of Advanced Studies, Banglore, Sreedhar Vijayakrishnan said, “The facility will help us understand the anatomy and physiology of the elephants. This will facilitate a lot of research.”
The research scholar also said it was possible to offer specialised care to the elephants. According to records, there are 507 captive elephants in the State. Mr. Vijayakrishnan pointed out that being in a semi-wild set up is the major advantage of the facility. “The captive animals suffer a lot from stress, and stress in turn affects their digestive process, immune responses, reproductive systems and all. So this place will provide a natural habitat and reduce the stress and by this, we can give them effective care and cure for the animals,” he said.