Koundinya sanctuary in Andhra Pradesh awaits ‘Jumbo romance‘ as all-female herd from T.N. enters Chittoor

December 07, 2022 06:44 pm | Updated 06:44 pm IST - CHITTOOR

An all-female herd from Tamil Nadu seen crossing Gudiyattam road to enter Koundinya sanctuary near Palamaner in Chittoor.

An all-female herd from Tamil Nadu seen crossing Gudiyattam road to enter Koundinya sanctuary near Palamaner in Chittoor. | Photo Credit:

An 18-member herd of all female elephants from the forests of Gudiyattam and Pernambattu of Tamil Nadu are currently on the prowl in the Koundinya wildlife sanctuary zone in Chittoor district, apparently “in search of mates”. The herd is accompanied by four calves, under the age of 3. The forest officials say that it’s a unique phenomenon to see such a large female herd crossing into the sanctuary.

The herd, with its habitat stretching from Gudiyattam to Mudumalai and Annamalai Hills of the Western Ghats, crossed into Chittoor district in the early hours of Tuesday. As they could not negotiate the solar fencing, the herd took a detour into the Palamaner range crossing the busy Gudiyattam road. Unlike the regular crop-raiding herd from Tamil Nadu, this “all-female herd” kept making gentle movements along the forest fringes, with little or no damage to the crops.

Senior forest watchers and elderly farmers observed that going by the trouble-free behaviour of the herd, it is a clear hint that they are in search of mates. “After staying put in the sanctuary for a month or two, the herd would again move to their regular habitats. This happens very rarely. It is a welcome sign that Koundinya sanctuary has become a haven for jumbo romance,” said a senior elephant-tracker.

Forest Range Officer (Palamaner) Nayeem Ali confirmed that “it is an all-female herd, with four calves.”

“A majority of the elephant population in Koundinya sanctuary is male. We have about 40 tuskers and a negligible number of females. Only the female elephants move in large herds, while the tuskers form into small herds or move as loners. We are keenly observing whether this all-female herd from Tamil Nadu forests reached the Koundinya sanctuary for mating,” Mr. Ali said.

The official said that fortunately there was no infant-calf below one year in the herd, which phenomenon might delay the efforts to drive them back into their original habitat.

Hectic movement

Meanwhile, the elephant trackers on the field observed that with the presence of a large female herd in the sanctuary belt and the surrounding fields, there is bound to be hectic movement of jumbos, including the resident tuskers responding to their female counterparts. As a precautionary measure, the farmers have been advised not to move alone in the fields or wear white-coloured clothes or maintain night vigils. The forest staff has also mounted surveillance on the Gudiyattam road to caution motorists.

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