The death of two wild female elephants in the Periyar Tiger Reserve (PTR) within two weeks by the reported attack of a wild tusker in ‘must’ has raised concern among conservationists here.

For the past three years, 14 elephants including a calf have been reported to have died after being wounded by a lone tusker moving about dangerously in the reserve. The forest authorities have not been able to trace the tusker.

After having concluded that the deaths were caused by a wild tusker, a team was deputed to bring the situation under control. Minister for Forest Binoy Viswom had also directed the forest department to take immediate action to rein in the freely moving tusker. A forest guard and two expert watchers were put on duty to trace the tusker.

An expert team constituted last year had been directed to tranquilise the elephants. However, when the summer season came to a close, the situation in PTR returned to normal till the death of two elephants this year.

A forest department official said the attack cases were reported during extreme summers. Due to a spurt in the number of wild elephants in PTR and the comparatively long elephant corridors that exist in the large area under PTR, tracing a single tusker is a big task. Moreover, he said the attack cases were not confined to a particular location. It was also not finally confirmed that a lone tusker had killed a large number of female elephants.

The officials who conducted the post-mortem have confirmed that the body of the two elephants had marks of attack caused by tusks. However, it was also reported that failure in taking strong follow up action by the forest department had resulted in the recent death of the two elephants. Since, PTR is known for its good record of protecting wild animals and forest wealth, outside elements causing elephant deaths are ruled out. The forest department is now planning to appoint an expert team to trace the tusker and take effective steps to protect other elephants from its attack.