The efforts of the Forest Department to drive back a herd of eight elephants from Rayanakere on H.D. Kote Road, about 10 kms from here, back to the Omkara wildlife block in Bandipur on Monday night did not fetch dividends as the elephants, including a calf, returned in the night and holed up at a private plantations close to the Dalvoy lake, near the Bandipalya Truck Terminal, about six kms from the city here on Tuesday.
Police have blocked the entry of people and vehicles into the ring road opposite the terminal while forest personnel are guarding the plantation area where the elephants have taken shelter. The herd was spotted close to a private resort at Rayanakere on the Mysore-H.D. Kote road, about 8 km from here on Monday. A man who cutting grass in a swampy area close to Dalvoy lake, left heaps of grass and fled after sighting the elephants approach the area in the morning.
Deputy Conservator of Forests, Mysore, D.S. Gaonkar, said that the herd which was driven from Rayanakere on Monday evening had crossed the Talur gate area and the pachyderms, apparently diverted their track due to the noise of the firecrackers being burst by the residents of villages owing to Kartikamasa festival.
Four kumkis, Gajendra, Srirama, Vikrama and Prashanta have arrived at the spot to assist in the operations. Abhimanyu, the elephant which was being brought from Mathigodu camp near Thithimathi was sent back from half way on Monday since the herd had started moving back, Dr. Nagaraj said. Abhimanyu was brought in a truck and had reached Hediyala on the Nanjangud outskirts.
The officials say that driving back the herd to the forests would be done only after 5 p.m. on Tuesday so that their track remains free from humans. ‘We want to see the herd back in the Omkara wildlife block’, Mr. Gaonkar said. Though the Forest Department is not exactly sure how they came to Bandipalya, the dung spotted near the Dattagalli lake pointed to their march towards the current location.
Field Director, Project Elephant, Udaya Kumar, Chief Conservator of Forests, Mysore, K.M. Markandeya, other officials, veterinarians Nagaraj and Prayag, Nanjangud Range Forest Officer, S. Jayashekar, who is involved in the operations since Monday, are present at the spot.
The officials are expected to take help of the topographic sheets to ascertain the route to drive back the herd towards evening. “The issue needs careful handling since the there is a calf in the herd, the older elephants are extremely protective of the calf,” said Dr. Nagaraj. Dart expert, Akram Pasha, too has been summoned to be in readiness to tackle the wild elephants in case of emergency.