Its carcass traced by officials at the foothills of Anubavi Subramaniar Koil hills

A 20-year-old male elephant that was shot with a tranquillising dart by Forest and World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) experts for fixing the radio collar in the small hours of Sunday was later found dead. The elephant's carcass was traced by officials at the foot of the Anubavi Subramaniar Koil hills near Thadagam, 22 km west of Coimbatore.

The forest officials successfully tranquillised a 20-year-old female elephant on Thursday last near Iruttupallam in Booluvampatti range and radio-collared it for studying the behavioural pattern of pachyderms and to prevent their havoc in human habitations. This elephant and its herd was under constant monitoring based on the signals emitted by the radio collar. It was moving along the forest boundary and the officials prevented its straying, sources said.

Radio collaring helps monitor the problematic elephants that enter human habitations, raid crops, besides killing people. In the long run, it leads to better wildlife management strategies and man-animal conflict resolution methodologies.

For radio collaring the second elephant, the officials on Saturday began search operations in Periyanaickenpalayam range. The Coimbatore Forest Division spread over 690 sq. km. with a boundary length of 315 km. has 58 villages that are highly prone to man-animal conflicts. There were 16 deaths due to man-animal conflict in 2010 and four deaths in the first six months of 2011, besides frequent crop raids.

The Booluvampatti and Periyanaickenpalayam ranges witnessed the highest man-animal conflict problem. Hence, the Department with the help of the WWF embarked on the mission to radio collar the problematic elephant-herd.

About 30 experienced elephant trackers combed in vain the Periyanaickenpalayam range, especially Palamalai hills, on Saturday and the operation was called off at dusk. Under orders of Conservator of Forests V.T. Kandasamy, it was led by District Forest Officer V. Thirunavukkarasu and Range Officer M. Nazir. WWF experts Ajay A. Desai and N. Mohanraj, along with veterinarians N.S. Manoharan and N. Kalaivanan, were part of the team.

Late on Saturday night, the trackers found the movement of three elephants in Thadagam area and the authorities immediately resumed the operation. A problematic tusker was located in a brick kiln late in the night. After making all preparatory arrangements and alerting all the brick kilns in the nearby areas, the officials zeroed in on the animal. Using a dart gun, a tranquilliser was shot at the animal around 1.10 a.m. As per standard operating procedures, 5 ml of xylazine was used in the dart.

On being shot, the elephant disturbed by the noise raised by the locals started running berserk, official sources said. The officials started chasing the elephant to douse water on it to bring down the temperature and medicines for reviving it from sedation were also kept ready. But, under the cover of darkness the elephant ran towards the hills through a dry stream.

When the sedation reached the peak, the elephant collapsed in an uncomfortable position, causing respiratory setback leading to its death. Later, the post-mortem indicated that the animal also had gastro-intestinal infection. The sources indicated that after a few days, the authorities plan to resume the operation to radio collar the second elephant.