PM2 elephant acclimatising to new habitat in Mudumalai Tiger Reserve, positive behavioural changes noticed 

Since his release in Congress Mattam in Mudumalai Tiger Reserve, PM2 has spent the last 12 days exploring his new habitat

December 21, 2022 03:38 pm | Updated 04:54 pm IST - UDHAGAMANDALAM

PM2 elephant (centre). File

PM2 elephant (centre). File | Photo Credit: M. Sathyamoorthy

Almost two weeks since his capture and relocation to the Mudumalai Tiger Reserve (MTR), the elephant, PM2, is acclimatising to his new habitat and has exhibited key behavioural changes that indicate that negative interactions with humans could be in the past, officials said.

Since his release in Congress Mattam in MTR, PM2 has spent the last 12 days exploring his new habitat, with radio signals and direct sightings indicating his exploration of Thengumarahada, Mangalapatti, Chemmanatham, Moyar, Theppakadu and even Bandipur.

The elephant was darted in Gudalur division earlier this month, and relocated to MTR after he damaged a number of houses over the last few years in the region.

Watch | How PM2 was captured
| Video Credit: M. Sathyamoorthy

Field Director of MTR, D. Venkatesh, said that it was normal for an elephant to walk anywhere between 10-15 kilometers each day, and that since his release, PM2, otherwise called Arisi Raja’ by Gudalur residents, has been busy exploring his new surroundings.

In the weeks since his release, PM2 has also been socialising with other elephants in the region, associating with five tuskers, another “maknha” or tuskless elephant like himself as well as a herd of three elephants.

“It is to be expected that Pandalur Makhna-2 (PM2) is trying to establish a niche for himself in his new habitat. He is eating well, resting and has adequate access to water within the reserve,” added Mr. Venkatesh.

Raiding homes for food could be a thing of the past

Forest department officials and staff have also noticed behavioural changes that indicate that PM2’s days of raiding homes for food could be a thing of the past.

According to officials, the previously “habituated” animal that showed no fear towards humans, has become extremely wary of people and forest staff since his capture and release.

“Every time PM2 sees people or forest staff, his first inclination now is to turn away and flee into the forest, which is a good sign that there are fundamental behavioural changes with the animal,” said Mr. Venkatesh.

While the signs are good that the relocation of PM2 will be a success, officials are leaving nothing to chance, with the geographic location of the animal being tracked every 30 minutes.

Top officials from the forest department, including the Field Director, District Forest Officer (Gudalur), Deputy Directors of MTR, as well as range officers have access to the information, so that teams can immediately drive away the animal if he strays too close to human settlements.

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