The animal has been evading capture for the last four days
It has been a hectic four days for over 40 Forest guards and officials on the trail of a tusker that has been identified for translocation. The animal has been evading capture and though Forest staff have tracked its movements and spotted it many times, they have not been able to tranquilise it.
‘It’s moving around’
“It has been moving from place to place. It is difficult to aim and fire the darts at it when it keeps moving,” said Venkatesh, an expert in firing tranquiliser darts, who is popularly known as Ane Venkatesh.
On Sunday morning, trackers spotted the tusker, along with two other elephants, in the forest near Kerodi village in Sakleshpur taluk.
The Forest staff and tamed elephants were summoned to the spot. However, they were not able to fire tranquiliser darts at the animal and they stopped the operation at around 5.30 p.m.
The operation is scheduled to resume on Monday morning.
As it has been in the last four days, trackers will leave the camp at Magadihalli in Alur to trace the elephant. As soon as they spot it, others will reach the spot along with tamed elephants.
Six tamed elephants, brought from elephant camps of the Forest Department, are assisting the staff in the operation.
R.N. Lakshman, Deputy Conservator of Forests, said that the tusker made the staff run behind it for over 30 km on Saturday. “It has been difficult to manage the public who gather around. Unless the shooters get the appropriate position, it is difficult to fire the tranquiliser darts,” he said.
Once the tranquiliser dart is fired, the elephant starts running helter-skelter till it collapses to the ground. The staff then follow it and cool it off with water and carry it to specially designed trucks by strapping wraps around its legs.
“Sometimes, it runs for 1 or 2 km after the tranquiliser dart is shot. During that time, we have to manage the crowd and ensure that nobody comes in its way,” said a guard at the spot. As of now the Ministry of Environment and Forests has given sanction to catch only two elephants. The department has to get formal approval from the MoEF to capture and shift the remaining elephants, which the Karnataka High Court has agreed to. The entire operation to shift all 30 elephants may take another year.
As per the department’s plan, these elephants would be kept in kraals for several weeks to tame them. People of Alur and Sakleshpur, who have seen 55 deaths owing to elephant attacks in the last 15 years, are hoping that the operation is conducted successfully.
Senior officers of the department are supervising the operation. The Hassan district police have deployed a platoon of the District Armed Force and local policemen to manage the public. Certain roads have been closed to vehicles to prevent any disturbance during the operation.