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French tourist held for pitching tent at national park

PTI  Munnar , May 04, 2012
First Published: 12:50 IST(4/5/2012) | Last Updated: 13:05 IST(4/5/2012)

A French national has been arrested by wildlife officials for allegedly trespassing and pitching a tent at Eravikulam National Park in Idukki district in Kerala.

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Ludovic Rebillard, 44, a software engineer, was remanded to 14 days judicial custody by the Judicial Magistrate at Devikulam.

Wildlife Warden PU Saju said the French Consulate in Puducherry had been informed of Rebillard's arrest on the charge of trespassing and occupying the park yesterday without prior permission.

Rebillard had a few days back approached forest officials and the District Tourism Promotion Council for permission to trek to Anamudi Peak, the highest point of the Western Ghats.

But he was denied permission on the ground that trekkers are not allowed to enter the protected Eravikulam range, one of the few surviving habitats of Nilgri Tahr, Saju told PTI.

Wildlife officials were, however, in for a surprise when they found the tourist staying in a tent in the park on Thursday.

When questioned, he said he spotted the place with the help of Google Map and started trekking to the peak after reaching the nearest motorable point by bus. He then trekked upto 20 km in the forest to the restricted area.

Rebillard told the official he was a nature buff and it was his long-cherished desire to visit Anamudi Peak.

Preliminary investigation revealed Rebillard appeared to have no motive other than visiting the peak. He had no gadget with him and just a mobile phone with which he had taken several pictures of the area, officials said.

Local police have been informed of the arrest and the genuineness of his passport is being examined, they said.


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