Palakkad Tusker-7 continues to scare villagers as kraal is getting ready in Wayanad

Forest department plans to tranquilise the elephant and transport it in a lorry to Wayanad, where it will be put in a kraal and tamed

December 18, 2022 09:20 pm | Updated 09:21 pm IST - PALAKKAD

Palakkad Tusker-7 standing near an electric fence at Dhoni during a recent raid  in a farm.

Palakkad Tusker-7 standing near an electric fence at Dhoni during a recent raid in a farm. | Photo Credit: SPECIAL ARRANGEMENT

A rogue elephant codenamed PT-7 (Palakkad Tusker-7) that gained notoriety by continually raiding the villages on the fringes of Dhoni forest continued to scare the people of Dhoni and Akathethara in spite of the efforts by the Forest department to capture it and convert it into a kumki.

Although the elephant is tracked by a forest team led by Divisional Forest Officer Sreenivas Kurra, the tranquilising capture schedule has been extended because of a delay in the construction of a kraal in Wayanad.

The plan is to tranquilise the medium-sized tusker, presumably 20-25 years old, and transport it in a lorry to Wayanad, where it will be put in a kraal and tamed. Although the plan looks simple, it involves elaborate arrangements as carrying the pachyderm about 180 km under sedation is risky.

According to Chief Forest Veterinary Officer Arun Zachariah, a key member of the team on the PT-7 trail, the elephant can be captured and transported by this month-end.

Kraal construction

The 18-ft high kraal is getting ready in Wayanad. Dozens of eucalyptus trees were cut down for its construction. The foundation of the kraal alone will have a depth of six foot.

When the kraal is ready, another small kraal will be made for transporting the pachyderm in a truck. “We cannot afford to let the elephant lie down. It will be standing and in sedation,” said Dr. Zachariah.

Three kumkis will be brought in from Wayanad for pushing and wheedling PT-7 into the lorry. Although tranquilising the animal appears not too risky a process, translocating it under sedation to Wayanad 180 km away is. The vehicle carrying the bull cannot run faster than 20-30 km an hour.

Complicated process

“It is a very complicated process. If the sedation is high, then the bull’s life is at risk; if it is low, then the bull will break the truck. But we have done it before, and we are confident,” said Dr. Zachariah.

He said they would be ready for chemical darting after Christmas as the kraal is expected to be completed by then.

Meanwhile, the local people reiterated their plea to do away with the elephant as it continued to scare them by frequenting the village farms. PT-7 has gained notoriety by attacking a few people and raiding farmlands dozens of times in and around Dhoni. It is suspected that it was PT-7 that trampled a 60-year-old man to death while he was on his morning walk along with friends at Dhoni in July this year.

For the last couple of years, the elephant kept moving around the fringe areas of Puthupariyaram and Akathethara. “In the last one year, it remained outside the forest for 180 days,” said Mr. Kurra.

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