Operation Malai’, a mission to capture a herd of six elephants that strayed into human habitations in Villupuram and Tiruvannamalai, concluded successfully on Wednesday night with forest veterinarians tranquilising all the six elephants.
On Tuesday, within minutes after elephants emerged from the forests along Thandarampattu-Thanippadi road, the veterinarians darted two elder members of the herd, a tusker and the matriarch. Both the animals were completely sedated. Anti-poaching guards and trackers drawn from Mudumalai were able to chain the animals after some struggle. The tusker was pushed into a specially altered lorry with the help of kumki elephants. After a pooja, a mahout and a kavadi (assistant to mahout) were assigned to the animal and the lorry carrying the elephant left the place past midnight and reached the camp in Topslip by Wednesday morning.
The tranquilised matriarch was kept in chains in the forest to lure the other four. However, the four elephants crossed the road around midnight and disappeared.
On Wednesday, the veterinarians could dart another female nicknamed ‘F3’. It too was successfully chained inside the forest.
After a lull during the day, the team of veterinarians, including Dr.Manoharan and Kalaivanan, sighted the three remaining elephants. But when the elephants saw Dr.Manoharan with a gun, they retreated into forest, but the team managed to get ‘F2’.
The evening was not that easy for the team as ‘F2’ was not sufficiently sedated. It crossed the road and entered a sugarcane field. But three kumkis ‘rounded’ it up. Thereafter, it did not take much time for the veterinarians to tranquilise the smaller ones in quick succession and chain them. The elephants will be transported by Thursday morning, as it was raining heavily.