Perumbavoor: It was an emotional union at the ‘anakalari’ at the Abhayaranyam Zoo in Kodanad, Ernakulam, when 54 members of the Sambar Kod and Okkal Sambar Kod tribal communities of Attapadi came to see their beloved elephant ‘Peelandi’.
Peelandi was caught by the forest officials at one of the tribal villages in Attapadi using tranquilizers on May 30 of this year. It had killed seven and was causing widespread damage to agricultural farms.
The ‘anakkalari’ at the Abhayaranyam Zoo in Kodanad, a riverside village located on the southern bank of Periyar River, is a sanctuary for elephants which focuses on rescue and rehabilitation. Peelandi is kept in a cage made from eucalyptus branches. It is fed, bathed and trained by the experts at the ‘anakalari’.
The tribal community worships the elephant as ‘god of the forest’. Most keep a miniature elephant idol in their house. They vouch for the elephant’s good behavior, insist that the tusker is not a trouble maker. The elephant destroys the harvest but also brings luck as the harvest is doubled next year. They remember him as a calm and quiet animal who would visit houses in the community, drink water and leave without giving any trouble. When the community expressed their desire to see Peelandi the forest department heeded.
None of the 7 killed by Peelandi were from the tribal communities, Mannarakkad division Forest Protection Samiti coordinator P. Mohanakrishnan says. There is an organic relationship between the elephant and tribal people. Their devotion and love is evident in the effort they took to travel all the way from Attappadi to Kodanad to know how Peelandi is faring, he added.
The tusker is named Peelandi after the last man it killed. At the Abhayaranyam, Peelandi goes by the name Chandrasekharan. The forest officials affectionately call him ‘Chandru’. The group of visitors consisted of men, women and children. The visitors were not allowed near the cage as Peelandi is still under training. They left the homegrown fruits they brought for Peelandi with mahout Ratheesh.
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