A tusker translocation programme in West Bengal

KOLKATA: It is described by wildlife authorities in West Bengal as the "longest trans-location of a wild elephant in the State and probably in the country." A 10-foot tall lone tusker, responsible for the death of seven persons and the destruction of hutments in West Midnapore district over the past eight months, was recently transported in a 10-tonne truck over a distance of 860 km to the Mahananda forest range in north Bengal. There it was released in the wild.

The tusker, weighing nearly 6.5 tonnes, was moved into a specially made 10-wheel truck and anchored with chains for a journey that stretched over two nights, according to Ujjal Bhattacharya, Chief Conservator of Forests (Wildlife).

Unique event

There has in the past been the occasional trans-location of elephants in the State but such exercises had involved sub-adult elephants. Never has a tusker of this size been transported over such a long distance.

A radio-collar acquired from the Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore, has been fastened to the tusker to track its movements.

Darts were fired to enable its capture once the elephant was located in the forests of West Midnapore bordering Orissa and identified. "Though we had the option of shooting it as it was responsible for the death of humans, we chose not to do so as per the advice by Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee, Mr. Bhattacharya said.