A tusker may be leading the way for the two elephant calves that were orphaned last week by an illegal electrical farm fence in Marandahalli forest of Palacode range here. One of the two calves, a sub-adult had guided his younger sibling out of Palacode forest range into Denkanikottai forest range, where they had sighted this tusker near a natural waterhole and have since lingered along. “The two calves were sighted in the vicinity of less than 100 mtrs from the tusker, about 4 km into Denkanikottai forest range, exiting the Palacode forest range. It is a grassy patch with soft grass and bamboo near a natural waterhole” says K.V.A.Naidu, the District Forest Officer, Dharampuri. It is believed this was the route the group of three adult elephants and two calves had taken last week on that fateful Monday night, when the two female elephants and one Makhna elephant was killed leaving behind the two calves that continued to mill around their dead mothers, and later around the burial site long after.
“The sub-adult remembers the route the group had taken into Palacode last week and it is shepherding the young one back through that route,” says Mr.Naidu.
In its wake of the elephant deaths, Bomman, the famed Elephant Whisperer -the elephant caretaker of Theppakadu camp in Mudumalai, who had raised such orphaned/ abandoned elephant calves in the care of the forest department, had arrived in Dharmapuri last week to help assimilate the two elephant calves with a herd or if the attempts failed, take them to Theppakadu camp - on the orders of the Madras High Court. All through the period in waiting, Bomman and his team witnessed an aggressive sub-adult fiercely guarding his younger sibling, not allowing the forest personnel to feed the calf. However, on Sunday, the team that had camped to track the calves had lost track of them causing concerns over the safety of the young one. Over last two days, the team tracked the calves to the neighbouring Denkanikottai range, milling around a grassy patch in the vicinity of the tusker, which may lead them back to a herd, according to the forest department. The dung analysis on the site by the forest veterinarian showed the calves are feeding on the soft grass.
While the two calves are hoping to be claimed by the wild forest, another unrelated calf that was rescued last weekend from farm well in Pennagaram was sent to Theppakadu camp in Mudumalai on Thursday.
The calf, all of four months old had fallen into a farmer’s farm well in Neerkundhi village in Pennagaram last Saturday. The calf’s plight was made known by the barking dogs looking down into the well. Soon, the forest department was alerted and the calf was rescued. On Thursday, the calf accompanied by Bomman, was carefully loaded onto a tempo and was on its way to Theppakadu camp. “It cannot survive in the forest and needs care. We got orders to shift the calf and it was shifted,” Mr.Naidu said.
Speaking to The Hindu , Bomman was eager to raise this calf. “Now, I’m being called for functions (felicitations for the Oscars for The Elephant Whisperers ).Once all that is over, I will raise this little one,” he says.