The Kerala High Court has directed to capture, radio-collar and translocate the Rice-Eating Elephant ‘Arikkomban’ to the Parambikulam Tiger Reserve.

The bench of Justice A.K. Jayasankaran Nambiar and Justice Gopinath P. agreed with the suggestion of the expert committee that was tasked with the responsibility to give suggestions in the human-animal conflict matter.

“…we are of the opinion that the Committee has considered all the relevant aspects and has come to the conclusion that the best possible way to deal with the present situation is only to capture, radio-collar and translocate the animal to the Parambikulam Tiger Reserve.”, the bench observed.

It further added “We are convinced that this is the best option, despite the submission of the learned Additional Advocate General that it is for the Chief Wildlife Warden to take a final decision as to whether the elephant has to be translocated or kept in captivity.”

The Additional Advocate General assured the Court that the Officials and Departments of the State Government will offer all necessary assistance for the safe translocation of the animal to the Parambikulam Tiger Reserve.

The Court directed the District Collector, Idukki, District Collector, Thrissur, and the District Collector, Ernakulam to personally supervise the translocation of the animal while the convoy passes through their respective Districts so that the transportation of the animal is carried out seamlessly and without any hindrance. The Court further directed that the District Police Chiefs/Rural District Police Chiefs, through whose jurisdictions the convoy will pass, will ensure that sufficient police personnel are deployed and escort is provided to ensure safe passage of the animal to the Parambikulam Tiger Reserve.

The Court also directed Arun R.S, the Chief Conservator of Forests (High Range Circle), Kottayam, Pramod P.P., the Chief Conservator of Forests & Field Director, Project Tiger, Kottayam and Dr. Arun Sakharia, the Chief Forest Veternary Officer to be in overall control of the capture and shifting of the elephant.

The Court ordered that during the capture, radio collaring and transport of the elephant, public shall not be permitted to videograph or transmit any images of the elephant being captured, transported or released at the Parambikulam Tiger Reserve.

Besides this, the Court also found it necessary to initiate steps towards finding a lasting solution to the perennial problem of human-animal conflict in various districts in the State, especially in Idukki, Palakkad and Wayanad.

The Court directed the Committee of Experts to consider the proposals put forward by the Officials of the Forest Department in the document titled “Proposal on Conservation of Elephants at Anayirangal, Chinnakanal, Devikulam Range of Munnar Forest Division, Idukki District, Kerala”

The Court directed the Committee of Experts to hold emergent meetings with the Principal Secretary, Revenue, Principal Secretary, Forest and Wildlife Department, District Collector, Idukki to try and implement the suggestions in the said document.

The Court constituted a Task Force to deal with the problem of human-animal conflict in Idukki District, till the time the study was pending by the CoE of the proposals.

“The task forces as above shall be constituted within a week, and they shall immediately proceed to formulate measures to prevent elephant incursion into human settlement areas within the territorial limits of the respective Panchayats”, the Court ordered.

Cause Title- In Re: Bruno (Suo Motu) Public Interest Litigation v. Union of India & Ors.

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