Thiruvananthapuram, Jul. 8: Kerala is not just ‘God's own country’ but also the land of elephants. Kerala is not just wide open natural habitat of elephants but also land which worships elephants. Now, Kerala government took the next step to combine culture and environmental issues.
The Kerala government is working to set up the country’s first elephant rehabilitation center in Kottoor, an ecotourism village near the state capital Thiruvananthapuram.
The 1st phase of the elephant rehabilitation center, Rs 105 crore-project was launched last month by chief minister Pinarayi Vijayan.
The center, expected to have an elephant museum, mahout training center, super-specialty hospital, a retirement home and crematorium for the animals, will house orphaned, injured and older elephants.
It is being planned on the lines of the Pinnawala Elephant Orphanage in Sri Lanka.
Now, the center has only 15 elephants, but the plan works, it is expected the numbers will go up once work on the infrastructure is complete.
Thiruvananthapuram Wildlife Warden Y M Shaji Kumar said, “Besides giving best care and protection to orphaned and abandoned elephants we are planning to give an opportunity for people to know more about elephants. They can understand their behavior and life pattern from a close range.”
On this development, Elephant expert PS Easa said, “We have been toying with this idea for some time. This will be a boon for wildlife researchers and veterinary students.”
The Kerala Forest Department is planning to admit captive elephants.
As per recent elephant census, the state has 507 captive elephants. The Sree Krishna temple in Guruvayur town has 59 elephants.
Kerala government aims, as center starts, which is spread over 65 hectares of natural forests, will also start an elephant safari and other activities to attract tourists.
State forest minister K Raju said, “We will make it a world-class center. It will be a major tourist attraction.”
As per the official statement, The center will also have a training center for mahouts along with a residential facility for them. There are no authorized training schools for mahouts in the country leading to ill-treatment of animals.