January 8, 2016
Rejuvenating 30 female temple elephants for 48 days in a salubrious ambience should not sound like a big challenge. But an unwanted intruder in the form of a wild male tusker on the very first day of the rejuvenation camp organized by the State Government has raised doubts on its peaceful conduct.
Nature lovers and mahouts at the Thekkampatty elephant camp near Mettupalayam here fear that there is a high possibility that more wild animal intrusion could be possible in the coming days.
This is in spite of forest officials assuring them that there would be no danger to the camp elephants from the wild ones as they have provided ample safety measures.
The mahouts have every reason to worry so. Their explanation is this: All the 30 elephants at the camp are female. When a wild male elephant tries to enter the camp or even makes his presence felt outside the camp, the female elephants would make an attempt to run towards their male counterparts.
One of the mahouts who has been attending the camp for more than five years said that despite the fact that the place was suggested by mahouts as there was a river and forest nearby, the place was always a trouble zone.
“We are not kumki elephant handlers but temple and mutt elephant mahouts. If there were a situation where we would have to tackle a kumki elephant, it would be very hard,” he said.
“Yesterday when the male tusker entered the camp we could see a couple of elephants trumpeting,” he added.
Accusing that the very site selected for the camp was on an elephant corridor, environmentalist K. Mohan Raj said that regardless of the gender, wild elephants would visit if there was an elephant in the vicinity.
“Elephants do move from place to place. They would surely become curious to see if they are able to smell an elephant close by. Hence, such occurrences are common with the campsite being nearby a forest and itself being an elephant corridor,” he said.
He further added that elephants can communicate in very low frequencies and hence can easily communicate to elephants which are even kilometres away. “These female elephants will be communicating with the wild elephants and there will be intrusions. This cannot be stopped,” he added.
Another wildlife enthusiast added that they could not question the selection of campsite as it was the decision of the Government. They also shared the fear that the farmlands nearby would also be raided by wild elephants that chose to visit the camp.
However, officials from the Forest Department have assured that they have taken all the required safety measures in the camp to avert such incidences. “We have secured the compound with solar–powered electric fencing, set up four watch towers and even installed 16 CCTV cameras in the campsite so as to monitor stray animal movement,” said an official.
He further added that the Department had also deployed more than 20 forest personnel and rescue vehicles for safe conduct of the camp.