Until a few days ago, a wild tusker aged about 40 years was in the news for the difficulties it was reportedly facing in feeding itself with an injured trunk.
Now the same tusker is back in the news for regularly visiting an exclusive resort nearby in search of food.
With conservationists and wildlife enthusiasts expressing concern over the development, Forest Department officials are in a dilemma over how to deal with the situation.
The allegation of some of the conservationists and Forest Department officials is that, for long, some in the hospitality sector in areas adjoining the Mudumalai Tiger Reserve (MTR) use food items, and salt licks to attract wild animals to places close to their premises in order to entertain their guests.
In the process, the animals become domesticated.
Deputy Director, MTR, A.Ameer Haja said feeding wild animals is a violation of the Wild Life Act.
He added that those found to be feeding Schedule I animals like wild elephants, can be prosecuted, and the penalty can run between three and seven years’ imprisonment.
Even tourists can be exposed to considerable danger as out of ignorance they would try to feed the animals.
He recalled that, in August 2009, a French tourist was killed by an elephant.
Referring to the feeding of the tusker near the Sigur Reserve Forest, G. Janardhanan, president of the Public Awareness Association of Udhagamandalam regretted that it had been going on for many years and wondered why the Forest Department has been a silent witness to this activity for so long.
Claiming that the animal was now totally dependent on such feeding on account of its injury, he said that the laws of jungle should not be flouted.
If appropriate action is not taken, judicial intervention will be sought to tackle the problem.
The District Forest Officer, in-charge, the Nilgiris North Division, B.Sugirtharaj Koilpillai said the department is in the process of taking action.
He added that the wounded elephant was recovering, and it was eating normally.