The Forest Department has decided to radio collar a wild elephant nicknamed Baahubali, which makes regular presence in forests and human habitations around Mettupalayam in Coimbatore district during the migration for several years.
According to the Forest Department, the Chief Wildlife Warden has issued orders to radio collar the tusker, codenamed as ‘MP20T1’, for study purpose.
A team has been formed to monitor the elephant round-the-clock to find when it comes to a suitable terrain where it could be darted and radio collared, said D. Venkatesh, District Forest Officer, Coimbatore Forest Division.
According to the Department, radio collaring would help in studying the tempo-spatial patterns of the elephant - where the animal travels in the habitat, how far it comes out of the habitat, how far it raids agricultural fields and how far it migrates in a year.
The data generated from the GPS-enabled collar will also help the Department in preparing the route of the elephant during migration, identifying obstacles in migratory path and understanding its behaviour during the musth period. The Department expects to prepare a complete route map of the elephant by monitoring it for a couple of years.
Even after fixing the radio collar, which is given by the WWF-India, a dedicated team will monitor its movement, collect data and record them, said Mr. Venkatesh.
According to I. Anwardeen, Additional Principal Chief Conservator of Forests (Coimbatore Circle), Coimbatore Forest Division gets its elephant population mainly from the Nilgiri elephant reserve comprising Wayanad-Mudumalai Tiger Reserve-Sathyamangalam Tiger Reserve-BRT Tiger Reserve and the Nilambur-Coimbatore elephant reserve comprising upper Nilgiris-Silent Valley–Nilambur-Mannarkad-Palakkad divisions.
“Population exchange between these two regions takes place though Kallar elephant corridor and also through Gudalur area which connects MTR with Nilambur. MP20T1 is a regular user of Kallar corridor. We need to understand how the corridor is used by different elephants and MP20T1 as such is not a very regular crop raider,” he said.
“Worldwide conflict is attributed more as an individual behaviour of the animal. Out of more than 50-plus male elephants which come to Coimbatore Forest Division, only 7 to 10 turned out to be crop raiders. Understanding individual behaviour will help us develop better management response mechanisms,” he added.