The 20 hectare facility has a large shelter, bathing pond, watering hole and shower.
The four elephants translocated to the Elephant Rescue and Rehabilitation Centre at M.R. Palayam near Tiruchi have apparently got accustomed to the new environment and are in better health, say Forest officials.
While Malachi, a 35-year-old female elephant, was rescued from Madurai after it was allegedly being used to beg, the other three, Sandhya, 43, Indu, 34, and Jayanthi, 22, were owned by the Kanchi Kamakoti Mutt. All four were sent following Madras High Court orders responding to two public interest litigations.
Speaking to Chief Conservator of Forests (in charge), Tiruchi Circle, V. Thirunavukkarasu said the Rescue Centre, set up on 20 hectares in the reserve forest area along Tiruchi-Chennai National Highway, started functioning after Malachi was brought on September 7. “About ₹75,000 a month is being incurred for the treatment and upkeep of the four elephants. The maintenance expenses for Malachi is taken care of by the State government. For the other three, the bills will be sent to the Kanchi Mutt,” he said.
Mahouts, two per elephant, from Pollachi, who had accompanied the pachyderms during their translocation, take care of the three elephants at the rescue centre throughout the day, Mr. Thirunavukkarasu said.
A veterinary surgeon from Tiruchi regularly inspects the pachyderms while a veterinarian from Chennai visits every Thursday, Mr. Thirunavukkarasu said.
‘Have responded well’
“Sandhya has some bruises and is being treated. Otherwise, all four have responded well to the new environment and mingle well with each other,” the Tiruchi veterinarian said. The elephants’ diet consists of 250 kg of fruit and vegetables, rice, barley and coconuts.
“We have raised green fodder here and will add it to their diet soon,” said District Forest Officer D. Sujatha.
The Centre has a large shelter, a bathing pond, a watering hole and a specially-constructed shower where the elephants enjoy an evening shower, Mr. Thirunavukkarasu said adding, “Apart from all these, the Forest Department has also sanctioned ₹40 lakh for installing additional lights and surveillance cameras. We have two CCTV cameras and will soon have eight more. The fences and other locations will all be illuminated.”