Elephants have always been an integral part of the history, tradition, myths, and culture of India and Kerala in particular. You cannot imagine a festival in Kerala without the presence of an elephant, such is the reverence and love this animal command.
In a commendable move, an ecotourism village called Kottoor in Kerala is all set to get its first elephant rehabilitation center of the country. The Kottoor is located near Thiruvananthapuram, the state capital of Kerala. Initially, a fund of Rs 105 crore has been granted for the project which was launched last month by chief minister Pinarayi Vijayan.
Facilities at the first Elephant Rehabilitation Center
The Rehabilitation Center is 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 modeled on the lines of the Pinnawala Elephant Orphanage in Sri Lanka.
Authorized training schools for mahouts
The centre has a mahout training centre and residential facilities for them in the centre. As there are no authorized training schools for mahouts in India, this will be the first of its kind.
Currently, the Rehabilitation Center houses only 15 elephants, but the officials expect the numbers to go up considerably after the work on the core 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.”
Speaking on the same matter, elephant expert PS Easa also says that they have been toying with the idea for some time and once it is complete, it will be a boon for wildlife researchers and veterinary students.
Admitting captive elephants
Further, there are plans of admitting the captive jumbos in the center. As per the last elephant census, there are 507 captive elephants in the state. In fact, the Sree Krishna temple in Guruvayur town alone has 59 elephants.
The elephant rehabilitation center will be spread over 65 hectares of natural forests that will also offer elephant safari and other activities for the tourists.