Tamil Nadu

Foresters escort tusker to home patch

Forest officials here have combined ingenuity and technology to drive a wild elephant foraging in a garbage mound back into its habitat.

The young tusker first arrived with a makhna and another tusker in the reserve forests in Gudalur a week ago. It soon got acclamatised to humans.

The animal became isolated when the other two returned home, said H. Madhusudanan, a conservationist.

Kumkis from the Theppakadu elephant camp initially tried to drive the animal towards the Needle Rock forest but the forest officials realised that it had to be driven back to its home patch near Visalakshi estate.

The operation to send it back to its habitat began at midnight. First, the habitations that lie along the way were charted using Google Maps.

Anti-Poaching Watchers and Anti-Depredation Squad members were then sent to each house to warn people staying there to not come out after nightfall.

Also, for the first time, information gathered from the Centralised Elephant Monitoring System to track elephants straying too close to human habitations was used to identify the animal’s home range.

District Forest Officer (Gudalur Division) P. K. Dileep said, “With small fires lit to channel the animal, we followed the animal in three vehicles,” he says.

Gentle handling

No firecrackers were used. Only infrared cameras, high intensity torches and just voices to guide the elephant back home.

The tusker seems to have settled in its habitat, but the officials are continuing to monitor its movement.

The officials say this operation could well become the model to be followed in future to chase elephants away from human habitations.

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Printable version | Dec 2, 2021 12:31:44 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/tamil-nadu/foresters-escort-tusker-to-home-patch/article22264410.ece

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