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Old 21st August 2016, 18:59   #1
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Default A visit to the Elephant Shelter & Rehabilitation Center in Konni, Kerala

This is my first visit/travelogue that am sharing on TBHP. I hope am able to do justice and make it an interesting read for the members. If there are any shortfalls, please do share the same so that I can improve on it next time around.

A word of caution - this is more about a particular spot/location and hence have not covered the route details neither the cars on the trip but just FYI, there were two rides - an Innova with 1.85 lac kms on the odo and a brand new wagon-r. This thread might be a bit disappointing for folks like me who looks for car pics along side the others. Sorry about that.

We had been on a trip to Kerala in the last week of July and had the time and opportunity to visit the Konni Eco-tourism center. Yes, I did mention it as eco-tourism center but in reality its more to do with an Elephant Shelter/Rehabilitation Center.

So the story around this starts when there was a marriage proposal for my Sis in law, and the grooms family was from Konni. While talking to the Grooms dad, I got to know about this park and how they rehabilitate and slowly let off the elephants into the wild when the herd comes. Apparently, elephants do not take in other new elephants in their group and so it becomes a challenge while letting them into the wild. Becomes even bigger challenge when the elephant is a rescued baby elephant as they are not even familiar to staying the wild.

What basically is done is that, the elephant is taken into the wild when the herd comes and observed from a distance. Generally it takes more than one visit for the herd to acclimatise to the new member but eventually they take him/her into the group.

This is what I got to know from the grooms father and found it to be interesting. So put it on my list for a visit. Though I had many visits after that, I couldnt really make it to the place because of a tight schedule. Luckily, I found some time on this trip and immediately clenched the opportunity. There were some relatives who had come from abroad and also were keen on visiting the place.

Like mentioned earlier, I have not covered the scenic routes or the rides involved because Kerala routes are a part of many travelogues. I did not want to bore the audience with something similar and couldnt click the rides because I was more in excitement of reaching the spot and seeing one of my favourite animals on the planet. So apologies once again.

A few pics of the entrance -

A visit to the Elephant Shelter & Rehabilitation Center in Konni, Kerala-dsc01448.jpg

A visit to the Elephant Shelter & Rehabilitation Center in Konni, Kerala-dsc01449.jpg

A visit to the Elephant Shelter & Rehabilitation Center in Konni, Kerala-dsc01447.jpg

Last edited by centaur : 3rd September 2016 at 20:07.
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Old 3rd September 2016, 20:46   #2
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Default re: A visit to the Elephant Shelter & Rehabilitation Center in Konni, Kerala

You have decent enough parking and I think we did go a relatively crowded day but there was still good amount of space to park the vehicles.

After you park and move ahead, this is what greets you-

A visit to the Elephant Shelter & Rehabilitation Center in Konni, Kerala-dsc01452.jpg

A visit to the Elephant Shelter & Rehabilitation Center in Konni, Kerala-dsc01453.jpg

A visit to the Elephant Shelter & Rehabilitation Center in Konni, Kerala-dsc01454.jpg

(Some pics might look a bit weird but I have had to crop them to remove faces of other people. So please do excuse me on that.)

Being an animal lover I generally never like these animal rides because of the horror stories around the abuse these animals go through but here I have always heard that the animals are treated really well and not really abused. However the queue of people was pretty long and the poor pachyderm was continuously taking walks to amuse those but I guess elephants do that in the wild too sans the people on its back and the chains on its legs though.

Generally the elephants which are abused have wounds on their legs because of the chains constantly irritating their skin but this one seemed absolutely fine. Took a pic as well of it.

A visit to the Elephant Shelter & Rehabilitation Center in Konni, Kerala-dsc01519.jpg

We went in to the counter to pay for the entry and this is what the tariff is for the different things-

A visit to the Elephant Shelter & Rehabilitation Center in Konni, Kerala-dsc01450.jpg

The last one which is elephant bath is one where people get to put water on the elephant using a pipe (this is what I guess it is and will elaborate more on it later)

We take the tickets and start walking in. Some family members decide to take a ride but the waiting is a little longer and so we decide to walk in and come in later for the ride.

The first thing that we come across is the elephant enclosure or the "Kraal". This is predominantly made of wood and bamboo and houses elephants which are sick or injured and need treatment. When we went in there, there were two elephant calves in it and from what we got to know, they were very recently born. Unfortunately there is not much light inside and even the wooden bars are placed with very little distance between them.

The babies looked a lot shy to look at the visitors or were very restless and kept moving in the Kraal. Adding to it, there is a railing which you visitors further far away from the Kraal. I have tried my best to capture the babies though I am not sure how clear the pics are.

The board indicating the Kraal
A visit to the Elephant Shelter & Rehabilitation Center in Konni, Kerala-dsc01488.jpg

The Enclosure in the background
A visit to the Elephant Shelter & Rehabilitation Center in Konni, Kerala-dsc01489.jpg

A visit to the Elephant Shelter & Rehabilitation Center in Konni, Kerala-dsc01490.jpg

The baby pachyderm
A visit to the Elephant Shelter & Rehabilitation Center in Konni, Kerala-dsc01466.jpg

The best shot I could get of the kiddo
A visit to the Elephant Shelter & Rehabilitation Center in Konni, Kerala-dsc01467.jpg

Another shot
A visit to the Elephant Shelter & Rehabilitation Center in Konni, Kerala-dsc01468.jpg

A visit to the Elephant Shelter & Rehabilitation Center in Konni, Kerala-dsc01469.jpg

A little dark inside
A visit to the Elephant Shelter & Rehabilitation Center in Konni, Kerala-dsc01470.jpg

Both of the babies together. Its a little difficult to see the one on the farther end but this is the best I could get
A visit to the Elephant Shelter & Rehabilitation Center in Konni, Kerala-dsc01471.jpg

Another shot
A visit to the Elephant Shelter & Rehabilitation Center in Konni, Kerala-dsc01472.jpg

I was feeling a little bad that such small kids were separated from their mothers but I guess they are taken care of well. After we returned back, I got a whatsapp from my relatives in kerala of a newspaper article in which the babies were named Ammu and pinchu.

Last edited by centaur : 4th September 2016 at 00:52.
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Old 3rd September 2016, 23:34   #3
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Default re: A visit to the Elephant Shelter & Rehabilitation Center in Konni, Kerala

We then moved further from the Kraal reluctantly and the next in line was the elephant museum. Its a small one really, the size of a living room in an average flat with small adjoining room where there was some audio visual. The main room has some framed pics and a elephant skeleton. It required visitors to remove shoes to get in and I was a little lazy to do it as most of it could be seen from the door itself. Asked my better half to click some pics but had to delete most of it

Another board indicating the museum
A visit to the Elephant Shelter & Rehabilitation Center in Konni, Kerala-dsc01473.jpg

The skeleton of an elephant
A visit to the Elephant Shelter & Rehabilitation Center in Konni, Kerala-dsc01474.jpg

Few framed pics with some captions
A visit to the Elephant Shelter & Rehabilitation Center in Konni, Kerala-dsc01482.jpg

A visit to the Elephant Shelter & Rehabilitation Center in Konni, Kerala-dsc01483.jpg
There were some facts also mentioned about the elephants but unfortunately they did not get captured in pics.

A few other random pics taken outside the museum -

A visit to the Elephant Shelter & Rehabilitation Center in Konni, Kerala-dsc01479.jpg

A visit to the Elephant Shelter & Rehabilitation Center in Konni, Kerala-dsc01480.jpg

A visit to the Elephant Shelter & Rehabilitation Center in Konni, Kerala-dsc01481.jpg

A visit to the Elephant Shelter & Rehabilitation Center in Konni, Kerala-dsc01475.jpg

A visit to the Elephant Shelter & Rehabilitation Center in Konni, Kerala-dsc01476.jpg

There also is a small cafeteria which serves you some snacks just in case you get hungry. Opposite to the museum is a kids play area with some swings, see saws, merry go rounds etc. to keep the kids busy just in case they aren't really interested in looking around. However the equipment is pretty less and can get crowded with a lot of kids. Nothing much to write about there though.

Next in line comes the elephant shelters. These are kind of stables where the elephants are kept most of the times. Each stable/shelter has the name of the elephant, the age and its place. The youngest we spotted there was just 5 years old but looking at its size it was difficult to say so looking at its size. One of the shelters was empty and that was the elephant which was on duty for the rides that day.

A visit to the Elephant Shelter & Rehabilitation Center in Konni, Kerala-dsc01495.jpg

A visit to the Elephant Shelter & Rehabilitation Center in Konni, Kerala-dsc01496.jpg

A visit to the Elephant Shelter & Rehabilitation Center in Konni, Kerala-dsc01498.jpg

A visit to the Elephant Shelter & Rehabilitation Center in Konni, Kerala-dsc01499.jpg

A visit to the Elephant Shelter & Rehabilitation Center in Konni, Kerala-dsc01500.jpg

A visit to the Elephant Shelter & Rehabilitation Center in Konni, Kerala-dsc01501.jpg

A visit to the Elephant Shelter & Rehabilitation Center in Konni, Kerala-dsc01502.jpg

There was one shelter of a 73 year old but it was empty. Probably Mr had gone somewhere or crossed over the rainbow bridge to the other side.

A visit to the Elephant Shelter & Rehabilitation Center in Konni, Kerala-dsc01527.jpg

Some over enthusiastic guys were trying to get too close to the elephants in the shelter to get some selfies/pics and one of the mahouts came shouting at them. Apparently its happened in the past when the curious/angry elephants ended up pulling the cell phones out of their hands, or even worse, pulling the people itself with their trunks. For this reason, he suggested staying away from the elephants so as to not get into trouble and they fearfully oblidged

Last edited by centaur : 4th September 2016 at 00:15.
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Old 4th September 2016, 00:09   #4
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Default re: A visit to the Elephant Shelter & Rehabilitation Center in Konni, Kerala

A little more roaming around and I see a lone elephant tied a long way outside and far away from the shelter. Seemed to be the bull elephant which is also used for mating with the females. Took a few shots. The perimeter around this one was the farthest than most elephants including the ones in the shelter and I presume its because this guy could get violent.

Bull elephants are known to get a bit violent when they are in the heat and pretty much destroy anything and everything in their path. There are many instances of this in Kerala during festivals and even otherwise. Plenty of videos on Youtube too. However, I felt this guy looked magnificent. He was pretty much busy eating his evening snacks and didnt really bother about the people looking at him.

A visit to the Elephant Shelter & Rehabilitation Center in Konni, Kerala-dsc01503.jpg

A visit to the Elephant Shelter & Rehabilitation Center in Konni, Kerala-dsc01504.jpg

A visit to the Elephant Shelter & Rehabilitation Center in Konni, Kerala-dsc01505.jpg

Isnt he a stunner
A visit to the Elephant Shelter & Rehabilitation Center in Konni, Kerala-dsc01506.jpg

A visit to the Elephant Shelter & Rehabilitation Center in Konni, Kerala-dsc01507.jpg

A visit to the Elephant Shelter & Rehabilitation Center in Konni, Kerala-dsc01508.jpg

Look at the bulk and his tusks
A visit to the Elephant Shelter & Rehabilitation Center in Konni, Kerala-dsc01509.jpg

Started walking a little ahead and noticed these "relics" rusting in piece. If anyone's interested you can pick 'em up for some restoration.

Anyone interested in restoring a road roller
A visit to the Elephant Shelter & Rehabilitation Center in Konni, Kerala-dsc01510.jpg

A visit to the Elephant Shelter & Rehabilitation Center in Konni, Kerala-dsc01511.jpg

A visit to the Elephant Shelter & Rehabilitation Center in Konni, Kerala-dsc01512.jpg

A visit to the Elephant Shelter & Rehabilitation Center in Konni, Kerala-dsc01513.jpg

A visit to the Elephant Shelter & Rehabilitation Center in Konni, Kerala-dsc01520.jpg

A visit to the Elephant Shelter & Rehabilitation Center in Konni, Kerala-dsc01521.jpg

A little ahead I spotted this huge tree and on its trunk was written "Devil's Tree". Now I am not sure of the reason this one is called a Devils tree but it definitely did look a bit different from the others.

A visit to the Elephant Shelter & Rehabilitation Center in Konni, Kerala-dsc01517.jpg

A visit to the Elephant Shelter & Rehabilitation Center in Konni, Kerala-dsc01518.jpg

This was pretty much what is there in Konni but we returned to the elephant shelter once again just to take a seat and group together before leaving. That's when I saw the pachyderm on the ride duty signing out for the day. The harness and seats on it were removed and she felt a bit relieved of the burden.

She then walks to a designated area where there is a tank filled with water for her. Like most of you, I too thought it would be for drinking but take look what she did with it -

A visit to the Elephant Shelter & Rehabilitation Center in Konni, Kerala-dsc01525.jpg

A visit to the Elephant Shelter & Rehabilitation Center in Konni, Kerala-dsc01526.jpg

A visit to the Elephant Shelter & Rehabilitation Center in Konni, Kerala-dsc01528.jpg

A visit to the Elephant Shelter & Rehabilitation Center in Konni, Kerala-dsc01530.jpg

A visit to the Elephant Shelter & Rehabilitation Center in Konni, Kerala-dsc01531.jpg

A visit to the Elephant Shelter & Rehabilitation Center in Konni, Kerala-dsc01532.jpg

A visit to the Elephant Shelter & Rehabilitation Center in Konni, Kerala-dsc01533.jpg

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A visit to the Elephant Shelter & Rehabilitation Center in Konni, Kerala-dsc01535.jpg

A visit to the Elephant Shelter & Rehabilitation Center in Konni, Kerala-dsc01536.jpg

Last edited by centaur : 4th September 2016 at 00:31.
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Old 4th September 2016, 00:46   #5
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Default re: A visit to the Elephant Shelter & Rehabilitation Center in Konni, Kerala

She looked so happy while taking bath and she deserved it too considering the fact that she was walking around the entire day in the heat carrying around people. It was a different experience for us too. We had seen elephants in real, and elephants taking bath on Television but never seen an elephant taking bath in front of our eyes and this was happening a few feet away from us. It was on for almost 30-45 minutes.

After she was somewhat satisfied drinking and bathing in the water, the mahout took out the pipe and instructed her to turn to a side (90 degrees) which she obediently did. He washed her all over and then asked her to turn another 90 degrees and then another and then another till she had turned all 30 degrees and he washed her all over. I guess this is what was meant by elephant bath on the ticket counter where in visitors get to bath the elephant using the pipe. Then she got some more time to play with the water before she retired for the day. She took her food parcel and headed to her shelter

A visit to the Elephant Shelter & Rehabilitation Center in Konni, Kerala-dsc01537.jpg

A visit to the Elephant Shelter & Rehabilitation Center in Konni, Kerala-dsc01538.jpg

A visit to the Elephant Shelter & Rehabilitation Center in Konni, Kerala-dsc01539.jpg

A visit to the Elephant Shelter & Rehabilitation Center in Konni, Kerala-dsc01540.jpg

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A visit to the Elephant Shelter & Rehabilitation Center in Konni, Kerala-dsc01544.jpg

A visit to the Elephant Shelter & Rehabilitation Center in Konni, Kerala-dsc01546.jpg

A visit to the Elephant Shelter & Rehabilitation Center in Konni, Kerala-dsc01545.jpg

Retiring for the day with her lunchbox
A visit to the Elephant Shelter & Rehabilitation Center in Konni, Kerala-dsc01547.jpg

Her home
A visit to the Elephant Shelter & Rehabilitation Center in Konni, Kerala-dsc01529.jpg

They say that once you have an elephants trust, there you dont need to worry about anything else, to the extent that the mahout actually sleeps between the 4 legs of the elephant at night, and the elephant doesnt even stamp on his head (atleast thats what I have heard from elders). These gentle giants have always been an object of curiosity, love and passion for me and seeing them up this close made me kid again. Its not that I had not seen elephants earlier but they were mostly in temples and in processions. This was something different and an experience I will cherish for a lifetime.

By the way, there is another attraction a little ahead from this place which is the coracle boat/bowl boat or something known as "Kottavanji" in malayalam as the locals call it. Due to shortage of time we couldnt make it but is worth a visit. Apparently the place is extremely scenic and a photographers paradise. So if you are anytime planning for Konni, so plan for the boat ride as well. Attaching a pic of the coracle boat

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Last edited by centaur : 4th September 2016 at 00:53.
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Old 4th September 2016, 07:40   #6
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Default re: A visit to the Elephant Shelter & Rehabilitation Center in Konni, Kerala

Thread moved out from the Assembly Line (The "Assembly Line" Forum section). Thanks for sharing!
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Old 4th September 2016, 17:55   #7
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Default re: A visit to the Elephant Shelter & Rehabilitation Center in Konni, Kerala

Hi Centaur ,thanks for your travelogue. Can you let us know more details on where this place is and how to reach? Can we club this with any other place of attraction?
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Old 5th September 2016, 13:38   #8
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Default Re: A visit to the Elephant Shelter & Rehabilitation Center in Konni, Kerala

Great Travelogue
Quote:
Originally Posted by centaur View Post

A little ahead I spotted this huge tree and on its trunk was written "Devil's Tree". Now I am not sure of the reason this one is called a Devils tree but it definitely did look a bit different from the others.

Attachment 1550581

Attachment 1550582
'Devil's Tree' is actually 'Ezhilam Pala' in Malayalam (Alstonia scholaris).
Also called as 'Yakshi pala' (Yakshi is the Malayalam word to Female Ghost).
The fragrance from the flower is really different and they look different too.
The belief is connected to 'Yakshi' being living in this tree.
Attached Thumbnails
A visit to the Elephant Shelter & Rehabilitation Center in Konni, Kerala-5191743834_a37522dd07_b.jpg  

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Old 5th September 2016, 18:12   #9
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Default Re: A visit to the Elephant Shelter & Rehabilitation Center in Konni, Kerala

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ananthc View Post
Hi Centaur ,thanks for your travelogue. Can you let us know more details on where this place is and how to reach? Can we club this with any other place of attraction?
Madurai-Gavi-Konni-Thenmala-Palaruvi will be a good drive. At Gavi, you need prior booking, it's one of the most attractive place near to Konni. You can get more details from http://gavi.kfdcecotourism.com

If you are not driving with your family then the best thing you can experience is Konni - Thenkasi via "Konni Achankovil Road", it's about 40KM drive through dense forest. But we will be allowed to drive only during the day time, entry is restricted after 4PM I believe.
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Old 6th September 2016, 11:48   #10
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Default Re: A visit to the Elephant Shelter & Rehabilitation Center in Konni, Kerala

Nice write up mate!! And wait!! A road roller and a elephant!! I may be going a little off topic here, but as a big malayalam movie fan, I couldn't stop myself from sharing this video from the famous movie Vellannagalude Naadu (Land of white elephants) Watch it from 6:06 Enjoy!

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Old 6th September 2016, 12:12   #11
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Default Re: A visit to the Elephant Shelter & Rehabilitation Center in Konni, Kerala

Thanks Guys. I have the video of the pachyderm bathing. Let me see if I can get it uploaded as well

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ananthc View Post
Hi Centaur ,thanks for your travelogue. Can you let us know more details on where this place is and how to reach? Can we club this with any other place of attraction?
Guess GT145 has already answered your queries but in terms of other places of attraction near Konni, I doubt there aren't many. We now have relatives in Konni and their house is like around 10 mins from the center. I had spoken to them about other places but apart from forest areas, a river and a waterfall, they did not hint at anything else. This I speak of in and around Konni. The coracle boat ride is one attraction there and above the drive through the forest and the areas adjoining the river are extremely scenic for anyone is what I have heard multiple times
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Old 6th September 2016, 16:52   #12
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Default Re: A visit to the Elephant Shelter & Rehabilitation Center in Konni, Kerala

Beautiful thread! I believe I have been to this place (not very far from the international airport I guess?). Your pics kicked in a lot of beautiful moments and thoughts (for any Malayalee). The "Elephants" to the "Ezhilam Pala" to the "Road roller"! Quite a nostalgia.

When I visited the place in 2011, they had an elephant calf too. And it was brought in just days before. It took me quite some time to spot it in the shelter. I was so surprised to see a trunk as big as a kid's hand. Never knew it could be that small. These babies need to have the space to play and shouldn't be restricted to the shelters; probably it's for their own safety those are kept in quarantine.
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Old 7th September 2016, 03:49   #13
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Default Re: A visit to the Elephant Shelter & Rehabilitation Center in Konni, Kerala

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Beautiful thread! I believe I have been to this place (not very far from the international airport I guess?). Your pics kicked in a lot of beautiful moments and thoughts (for any Malayalee). The "Elephants" to the "Ezhilam Pala" to the "Road roller"! Quite a nostalgia.
.
The Elephant training camp near Kochi International Airport is Kodanad Elephant Camp. Its different from Konni Elephant Camp. My native is near to that. As shown in his post, Kodanad center also has lots of Seized vehicles. May be it those seized during illegal timber trade or hunting of Wildlife from these areas.

During my childhood days, there used to be a one eyed Giant Tusker and it was kept always inside the Cage. The news I heard that time was its always create trouble once it was taken out of the cage and is very tough to Manage and killed several people. One of the elephant I particularly remember from this camp was a baby elephant Named Sunny. It was born there in the Camp during 90s I guess and I went and saw when it was few days old. Now its a "Non-So-Gentle" Giant and killed one guy few years back. I like Sunny's wild looks with long tusks pointing straight down. This type of tusk is not good elephant feature as per Elephant lovers.
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Old 7th September 2016, 11:01   #14
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Default Re: A visit to the Elephant Shelter & Rehabilitation Center in Konni, Kerala

Delightful debut post, Centaur ! Nice to read in detail of a relatively unexplored spot like Konni. Beautiful pictures of the Baby Elephants, though it felt sad to see them shackled in such a cramped enclosure !
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