Andhra Pradesh

All jumbos in Chittoor safe, say officials

A file photo of a carcass of a wild jumbo awaiting autopsy after being electrocuted in fields abutting the Koundinya sanctuary in Chittoor. Before burial, as a rule, forest officials secure the tusks.  

The arrest of three youth, hailing from the forest fringe villages of Seshachalam reserve in Chittoor district, in possession of three tusks of wild elephants by the Bengaluru North division police this week led to a big flutter among officials in Chittoor West and Tirupati wildlife divisions, which are home to about 85 wild elephants.

Amid speculation that the tusks had clandestinely reached Bengaluru from Chittoor region, senior forest officials on Friday confirmed to The Hindu that the seized tusks had originated from the Western Ghats in Tamil Nadu.

The Karnataka police nabbed the three youth at Hebbal on Monday, when they were allegedly on the way to dispose of the contraband for a hefty commission, after reportedly procuring it from an unidentified agent, who is said to be at large.

Police and forest officials of Tamil Nadu, Karnataka and Chittoor district investigated for four days to trace the origins of the tusks. “We got clarification on Thursday that the tusks were from Tamil Nadu,” Divisional Forest Officer (Chittoor West) S. Ravi Shankar said.

The Koundinya Wildlife Sanctuary, flanked by Karnataka and Tamil Nadu, is currently home to about 45 resident elephants, in addition to several migrant jumbos from border forests, which keep raiding the crops during some seasons. Between March 2019 and July 2020, seven elephants were killed due to electrocution in the fields, while one died due to internal fight among herds in Palamaner forests. In all the incidents, the forest officials had secured the tusks before burying the pachyderms.

Ever since the Koundinya sanctuary was formed three decades ago, not a single incident of “poaching” was reported in the area. All the tusks secured so far from the deceased jumbos since 1980s are said to be under the safe custody of the forest department in Chittoor.

“Compared to Tamil Nadu with hundreds of wild elephants in sanctuaries spread over vast forest stretches, Koundinya project is a cosy one with a small number of elephants, quite unsuitable for poaching. Our personnel are well accustomed to the terrain here, always with foolproof information about the movement of pachyderms,” Mr. Shankar said.

The Seshachalam hill ranges, which are considered an extended corridor of the Asiatic elephant after it re-emerged near Kuppam in 1980s, has about 40 wild elephants, circling the biosphere reserve in Tirupati wildlife and Rajampeta divisions.

Printable version | Nov 24, 2020 12:12:29 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/andhra-pradesh/all-jumbos-in-chittoor-safe-say-officials/article33145741.ece

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