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Forest Dept. warns of action against people feeding wild elephants in MTR

Caution notices posted across Vazhaithottam, Mavanallah and Masinagudi

The Forest Department has warned people living in the buffer zone of the Mudumalai Tiger Reserve (MTR) of action if they feed wild elephants.

The warning, which has specifically been issued to a private school in Vazhaithottam, also extends to local residents, who have been accused of feeding a wild elephant, known as “Rivaldo,” which became habituated to humans and has been captured and put inside a “kraal” (elephant shelter) for around two months.

The elephant was captured by the department citing an injury to its trunk. Conservationists and animal rights activists, including BJP MP Maneka Gandhi, have been fighting for its release for the last few weeks.

L.C.S. Srikanth, Deputy Director of MTR (buffer zone), said that another young male elephant, known in the region as “Junior Rivaldo,” which used to associate itself with the older Rivaldo, had been spotted roaming the region for the last few weeks.

“We had received information that locals had started feeding the animal. We have specifically warned the school and residents of action under the Wildlife Protection Act if they are caught feeding or harassing the elephant,” said Mr. Srikanth.

Caution notices have been posted across Vazhaithottam, Mavanallah, Chokkanalli and Masinagudi.

“Feeding or attracting with feed and teasing of Wild Elephants [sic] or any other Wild Animals is punishable under Wildlife Protection Act. Immediate and stringent action will be initiated if anyone is found to attempt the above said activities,” the notice read.

Recently, videos of local residents not only feeding, but also harassing “Rivaldo” prior to his capture surfaced on social media, with people caught on camera pulling the elephant’s tail.

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