THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: Elephant lovers supported by People for Animals (PFA) and Society for Elephant Welfare (SEW) are seeking the custody of one-and-half-month-old Kingini, the baby elephant brought to Kottur Elephant Rehabilitation Centre after being caught in floods and reached Karulai, Nilambur, on Aug 15. Principal chief conservator (wildlife) and chief wildlife warden Surendrakumar had told DC on Aug 20 that the baby elephant will not be brought to Kottur and his priority is to ensure that it doesn't meet its end in captivity following two previous incidents where the calves died.But on Sunday, DC came to know that he had on Aug 17 ordered that the baby elephant should be taken to Kottur.
Mr Surendrakumar was unavailable for comment on Sunday.
Strangely, the top brass of the forest department tried to mislead this newspaper.
But Sreedevi S. Kartha, full-time member of PFA, feels that it is to mislead the elephant lovers from transporting Kingini from Nilambur probably. A 10-member team brought Kingini, so named by four locals in Nilambur who found her on the banks of the Karimpuzha River, to Kottur by road on Aug 23 evening.
Kingini and her entourage reached there in the wee hours of Aug 24. Dr Arun Sathian, assistant forest veterinary officer, Kozhikode, who accompanied Kingini, told DC that she was ready for the long road trip as she was healthy.
"Currently, Kingini is quarantined at Kottoor, and we have to be extremely careful with its diet as it lacks immunity, which cannot be compromised. Instead of dried paddy leaves, we have laid rubber mats on the elephant nursery. More than its urine, Kingini is more likely to get hold of infections from its faecal matter where she will be taken to the adjoining nursery room to clean the area," said Dr Sathian.Another senior veterinary surgeon told DC that Kingini is currently on mineral supplements and on prophylactics to avoid herpes, antiviral antibiotics where it is fed lukewarm milk powder made from Lactogen. Kingini is yet to develop teeth, and within the last two weeks, she has become accustomed to feeding bottle. Ms Kartha told DC that several elephant lover groups have decided to demand the forest department to give Kingini to them to free her to the herd in Nilambur."We wish to take the responsibility of transporting and also taking care of its food if the forest officials allow us to take Kingini for two months on a trial basis. There have been previous incidents where baby elephants have been taken back to its herd in Guntur and Coimbatore where the Tamil Nadu High Court came out with an order and the herd welcomed it after it was rubbed with its own dung," said Ms Kartha.She also added that natural and organic food like coconut milk and goat milk should be given to Kingini, instead of milk powder. She, along with other elephant lovers, have approached Wildlife SOS veterinary doctor to come up with an appropriate diet for Kingini.