Animal rights activists and BJP MP Maneka Gandhi called for the release of an elephant, named ‘Rivaldo’ in Mudumalai Tiger Reserve (MTR).
On May 5 this year, the elephant was put inside a kraal or elephant shelter. A month has passed by since Rivaldo has been there, and a mahout and two assistants have already started training the elephant and teaching various commands.
Maneka Gandhi on Rivaldo:
Maneka Gandhi spoke about the elephant with The Hindu, on Monday. She said that Rivaldo hasn’t attacked humans, and is not a menace at all. She then added that the elephant became habituated to humans after it got a wound on its snout, which has now healed. However, she said that humans were at fault for feeding him and that Rivaldo now sees himself as a ‘semi-human.’
“Now the answer to this is to do a soft-release in Theppakadu without any chains, and feed him at a specific time and place,” she said, adding that the elephant should be left to gradually learn to forage for itself, and weaned off the feed. “If this works, he should be released into the forest,” said Maneka Gandhi.
There are a few other people who have been fighting for Rivaldo’s release too. Recently, T. Murugavel sought the animal’s release, after filing a case at a High Court. He said that according to the orders of the court, only the Forest Department is permitted to treat injured animals. He then added that there is no need to keep Rivaldo inside his enclosure, and called on the wildlife officials, for his release.
“From what has been observed about the elephant, it only seeks food from people during times of scarcity. It has been surviving for so long without any need for medical intervention,” he added.
Meanwhile, K.K. Kaushal, Field Director of MTR, said that people have been spreading rumours about the elephant being beaten inside the kraal. He refuted these rumours and said that they are giving him medical treatment.
When asked about the animal being trained, Kaushal said that this was being done, so that Rivaldo could be treated well.