June 13, 2016
Madukkarai Maharaj. This is the term given by the forest officials for the operation to capture and tame the less than 20-year-old tusker that has been creating havoc in human habitations near Madukkarai for the last one year.
Recently the State Government announced that the tusker a ‘rogue elephant’, should be captured with the help of four kumkis (tamed pachyderms) and tamed at the Varagaliyaru elephant campe inside a kraal.
The forest department made various arrangements with the help of several departments falling under the district administration on this front. According to sources, when the department was tossed over one too many time by the elephants’ intrusion in Madukkarai range, they were given two options by the WWF, one of which was selected – capturing and taming.
The other was to attach a radio collar to monitor the movements of the elephant, which would have given substantiate evidence to prove the capturing.
But the decision to capture this particular elephant was taken using non-scientific evidences including eye witnesses account and manual monitoring according to sources.
This less than 20-year-old has become a ‘VIP” among the locals of Navakkarai. Though environmentalists claim it would not visit on a daily basis into a particular area, locals and department officials say that the elephant was a regular visitor.
With this as a crucial evidence, officials have also said in a report that they had seen the elephant in the area with other elephants. While other elephants moved on, this particular one stayed back.
The elephant was first called ‘encounter elephant’ by officials and the name later dropped after environmentalists showed red flags. The elephant had killed a forest guard recently and damaged crops worth lakhs.
“The elephant had been a menace for more than a year now and it would be captured within a week,” says District Forest Officer in-charge R. Periyasamy.
According to Coimbatore-based environmentalist K. Mohan Raj, apart from the lack of scientific evidence, the urge to capture the elephant immediately is also questionable as he felt that the elephant would move on into other places being a migratory animal.
“It is less than 20-year-old and would soon venture into other areas. It would not stay in one area for a long time and its varied needs would drive it in search of a new habitat,” he added.
Mohan Raj also termed that taming was not the only option as trans locating the pachyderm to a different place could also be an option. “We were only informed of the decision. The department is not ready to accept our suggestions,” he alleged.
Meanwhile four kumkis – Paari from the Chaadivayal camp, Kalim from Kozhikamuthi camp and twins Vijay and Sujoy from Mudumalai have been brought to Navakkarai to help in the operation.
The wild elephant would be tranquilized after being driven into an open area.
“We are looking to tranquilize it in open area as it would not be possible to drag it out from deep jungles or rocky areas. There are also chances that the elephant might get hurt if tranquilized inside thick forest,” a top forest official said.