By Meera Bhardwaj
BANGALORE: One of the biggest operations to capture wild elephants in recent times is almost complete with the state Forest Department successfully catching 22 of them in the affected taluks of Alur and parts of Sakelespur taluks in Hassan district. The remaining three will be captured after the monsoons. The operations, that began in November last year, was taken up on the directions of the High Court to capture 25 pachyderms to address the increasing human-elephant conflict in the region. This is a massive exercise the state is seeing after the Khedda operations in 1971. The present modern effort involved lot of meticulous planning, modern equipment, guidance from pachyderm experts from other states, involvement of Khumkis (trained elephants) from BRT Tiger Reserve and Bandipur, and of course, the assistance of Mahouts and Kavadis (helpers) from different elephant camps. Speaking to Express, Karnataka PCCF (Wildlife) Vinay Luthra said, “The operations are almost complete and unlike the 10 per cent mortality that we usually see, this has been done without any casualties. This exercise was done using tranquilising methods needing coordination from various people and departments.” Deputy Conservator of Forests, Hassan, Ganesh Bhat said,
“Out of the 22 captured elephants, 12 are tuskers, five adult females, one juvenile and four calves. The operations between February and May 30 was a challenging exercise as it used 10 Khumkis to capture 12 elephants, while seven to catch the remaining 10. It was done without any injuries to anybody and we ensured absolute safety for everyone involved in this massive exercise.”
All the 22 captured animals have been transported to elephant training camps at Sakarebailu, Dubare, Doddarve, and Mathigodu where they will be looked after and trained.
Vinay Luthra further said, “Five animals of one family have already been released in the Cauvery Wildlife Sanctuary and their movements are monitored every day with radio collaring. The remaining 17 are in the four camps where they have been accommodated. Further, 20 elephants will be given to other states who are in need of trained animals making space in these camps. There is no space crunch but definitely we need more funds.”
One of the positive spin offs from this exercise was that the state Forest Department got an opportunity to study the social dynamics of elephants at very close quarters.
Also some interesting behavioural patterns like the aunt taking care of the calves, roaming of calves with other young ones, among others was observed and recorded. All observations have been documented and a paper will be presented soon.
“The documentation has been done and and we will be in a better position next time,” said Karnataka PCCF (Wildlife) Vinay Luthra,