THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: The forest department has invited proposals from agencies for constructing a state-of-the-art Elephant Rehabilitation Centre, at Kottoor in Agasthyavanam Biological Park Range over an area of 176 hectares. The DPR for the project, being prepared by the Habitat Group, has already been submitted to the forest department. The target is to establish the centre by the end of 2019. The Rehabilitation Centre, in its rudimentary form, was set up in 2007. "All injured, rogue, ill treated, sick and orphaned elephants, both captive and wild, are rescued and taken in possession and nurtured by the forest department in elephant camps and rescue and rehabilitation centres.
Releasing them further in the wild is only a distant possibility," a top forest department official said. It was this that necessitated the creation of a Rehabilitation Centre at Kappukad near Kottoor. The upgradation of the centre to a 'State-of-the-art Elephant Rehabilitation Centre of international standards' was first mooted in the 2017-18 budget speech. The proposed centre, which was to be developed using the funds of Kerala Infrastructure Investment Fund Board (KIIFB), was to be established at an estimated cost of Rs 105 crore. The Neyyar- Peppara Forest Development Agency was appointed as the special purpose vehicle for the project.
The major objectives of the proposed centre are to provide near natural environment for the elephants in captivity aided with other necessary living conditions, adequate free ranging space to enable elephants to move, bathe and forage in wilderness as well as socialize and mingle as herds, under the care of mahouts, state- of- the- art in-house veterinary care and treatment to facilitate recovery for ailing elephants, waste management and recycling facility to get rid of elephant dung and other biodegradable and non-biodegradable wastes (making the centre Zero Waste). The centre will also facilitate research, both veterinary and behavioural, supporting elephant management and welfare, and establish training, skill development and management centre for veterinarians, mahouts and elephant keepers.