Chinna Thambi caught again, sent to kraal

To be shifted to Kozhikamuthi elephant camp in ATR after being tamed

February 15, 2019 01:42 pm | Updated November 28, 2021 09:26 am IST - UDUMALPET

Chinna Thambi aboard a truck at Kannadipudur on Friday.

Chinna Thambi aboard a truck at Kannadipudur on Friday.

Wild elephant Chinna Thambi, which has been raiding crops in and around Udumalpet in Tirupur ever since its translocation from the Thadagam Valley to Varagaliar near Top Slip, was captured from Kannadipudur and lodged in a kraal on Friday.

V. Ganesan, Field Director of the Anamalai Tiger Reserve (ATR), said that the operation gave Chinna Thambi the unique distinction of being the first wild elephant to be captured twice.

The Forest Department team started the operation around 7 a.m., attempting to lure the elephant out of a sugarcane field at Kannadipudur. Kumki elephant Khaleem was pressed into service to chase the elephant out to an open field where two officials were stationed to fire tranquiliser darts. The first dart shot at 7.50 a.m. by veterinary surgeon K. Ashokan missed its target and the tusker moved through the open field to the next sugarcane field.

A second dart shot by retired Forest Department official Thangaraj Panneerselvam a minute later hit the elephant’s leg. Two more attempts, at 8.35 a.m. and 9.12 a.m., too missed the elephant.

Jackfruit as bait

The team then tried to lure the tusker out with its favourite food — jackfruit. The animal responded to the smell and came out of the field. Officials called out to the elephant and offered it pieces of jackfruit. Dr. Ashokan then shot the fifth dart at the animal’s right thigh at 9.32 a.m. As soon as the dart struck, the elephant retracted to a sugarcane field.

A drone was deployed to survey the animal’s location inside the sugarcane field. The drowsy elephant emerged at a nearby banana plantation, where mahouts and helpers tied ropes around its neck and legs.

It took at least three hours for the team to create a path to the plantation for a truck. The process of loading the elephant on to the truck started at 2 p.m.

Using kumkis and a hydraulic pulley in the truck, they managed to load Chinna Thambi on to the vehicle at 2.20 p.m.

The radio collar was removed.

The elephant was lodged in a kraal at Varagaliar late on Friday.

Mr. Ganesan said that the elephant would be shifted to Kozhikamuthi elephant camp in ATR after undergoing a taming process in the kraal for some months. He added that no decision had been taken on whether to use the animal as a kumki.

Chinna Thambi was translocated from Thadagam Valley in Coimbatore to Varagaliar, around 110 km away, on January 26.

The radio-collared elephant, aged around 25, managed to come out of the forest on January 31 at Aliyar near Pollachi.

After a two-day trek, it reached Krishnapuram near Udumalpet, more than 100 km from Varagaliar, where it halted near a sugar mill for six days before moving on to Kannadipudur.

The Forest Department resorted to capturing the animal following an order from the Madras High Court to the effect on Wednesday.

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