A kumki elephant, Kaleem retired from its services in Tamil Nadu at the age of 60 years last week. The tusker was involved in 99 rescue operations. The tusker received a guard of honour from the forest department as it retired. The clip of Kaleem receiving the grand gesture was originally shared by Indian Administrative Service (IAS) officer Supriya Sahu. The video has also received the attention of Erik Solheim, a Norwegian diplomat and former politician. He also shared the video clip of the tusker via his Twitter handle. Solheim wrote in the caption, “Eyes are wet and hearts full with gratitude as Kaleem the iconic Kumki elephant of the Kozhiamuttthi elephant camp in Tamil Nadu retired at age of 60.”
Have a look at this video here:
Eyes are wet and hearts full with gratitude as Kaleem the iconic Kumki elephant of the Kozhiamuttthi elephant camp in Tamil Nadu 🇮🇳 retired at age of 60. Involved in 99 rescue operations he is a legend. He received a guard of honour.@supriyasahuias
— Erik Solheim (@ErikSolheim) March 16, 2023
In the video, it can be seen how the officers give Kaleem a grand salute. Kaleem also salutes the officers with its trunk.
As Kaleem retires, the 29-year-old tusker Chinnathambi is likely to succeed him, as per media reports. Chinnathambi has already carried out two successful operations, the first in Dharmapuri and the second in Coimbatore, to capture a makhna (male elephant without tusks). S Ramasubramanian, field director of the Anamalai Tiger Reserve (ATR) told The Hindu that Chinnathambi is the candidate they prefer the most based on physical characteristics and the capacity to understand and carry out commands.
The novice and the seasoned pro have already collaborated. Chinnathambi’s first field experience with Kaleem came in April 2022 when he was brought to Kannivadi in the Dindigul district to hunt down stray wild elephants. In February this year, he received a task for his first independent operation.
NS Manoharan, a retired veterinarian who worked with the Forest Department for 30 years, stated that Chinnathambi is a contender to fill Kaleem’s vacant position without a doubt. Due to the animal’s prior exposure to people, noise, and other disturbances, this young kumki is very tolerant of current circumstances.
Along with the forest staff, seasoned mahouts (elephant handlers) see Chinnathambi, who was once a crop raider, as a potential successor. He was apprehended at the age of 25 in 2019 in Kannadiputhur, close to Udumalpet.
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