By G.T. Sathish
The Forest Department is expected to begin its operation to capture trouble-making wild elephants in Alur and Sakleshpur taluks of Hassan district on May 4. However, even after the department captures 25 elephants, seven to eight elephants may remain in these areas.
The department has so far captured and shifted 13 elephants, including a female, to elephant camps. The Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF) has given clearance to capture only 25 elephants following the Karnataka High Court’s ruling.
Ganesh Bhat, Deputy Conservator of Forests, told The Hindu on Saturday that the staff had identified two families — one with six members and another with five members, besides a tusker — which they intend to capture in the coming days.
“We are tracking the two families with the help of radio collars fixed on the heads of both families. We get updates about their location every hour. We are planning a mega operation from May 4, when we will capture members of both families in a couple of days. The department is making logistical arrangements for the operation,” Mr. Bhat said.
The family of five members includes two female elephants, two cubs and a juvenile. The other family has four females and two cubs. “While capturing female elephants, we have to capture the family together. Kraals are being prepared at Dodda Harave near Periyapatna and Mathigodu in Chamarajanagar,” he said.
The officer has requested his seniors to depute specialised doctors to carry out the operation smoothly. As capturing elephants in a group requires more staff, the officer has decided to draw staff posted at different points in the district for the work.
“I can’t say the elephant menace will be down to zero after the operation is completed, but their number will be minimal. However, we have brought it to the notice of senior officers that those spotted in the area would not be captured now,” he said.
The State government had earmarked Rs. 1.7 crore for the entire operation last year of which around Rs. 80 lakh has been released. “We are spending the amount towards trucks hired to carry elephants, preparing cages, making arrangements for kraals at elephant camps and food served to staff involved in the operation every day,” the officer said.