The Forest Department has to pass two more hurdles before launching the operation to capture elephants in Hassan district.

The State has to seek permission from the Ministry of Environment and Forests; it must also convince several members of the Karnataka Elephant Task Force who were opposed to the idea of capturing elephants.

Dipak Sarmah, Principal Chief Conservator of Forests, speaking at a meeting with people’s representatives and district-level officers in Hassan on Wednesday, expressed confidence of getting the Centre’s approval soon. “Earlier, we had permission from the Centre for translocation of elephants. If we do so, there are chances that the elephants will return. We are planning to shift them to our elephant camps, where they can be trained. For this, we have to take fresh approval from the Centre,” he said.

Further, the officer said that the Karnataka High Court, which allowed capture of elephants, had told the State to discuss the matter with those members of the task force who were opposed to the idea.

‘Up to the government’

“Now the responsibility of holding talks and convincing those members is with the government. Unless these two tasks are completed successfully, the department can’t go ahead with the proposed plan,” Mr. Sarmah said. The Forest Department plans to capture 30 elephants, spread over different groups, in Alur and Sakleshpur areas.

“We can’t capture all 30 elephants at one go; this is a herculean task. The elephants will be captured in a phased manner. It may take several weeks to capture one herd. The whole process may require up to one-and-half-a-years to complete,” he said.

The department has trained Range Forest Officers, Assistant Conservators of Forests and Deputy Conservator of Forests. “All the trained officers will be involved in the operation. We will complete the preparations before January 2014 and begin operations,” he said.

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