September 12, 2017
Keshav Agrawal, The Times of India
Pilibhit: The Uttar Pradesh government is set to procure 12 elephants from Karnataka which will be deployed in Pilibhit Tiger Reserve (PTR), Dudhva Tiger Reserve (DTR) and the Kishanpur Wildlife Sanctuary (KWLS) to keep a tight vigil on the movement of poachers.
Confirming the development, SK Upadhyay, UP principal chief conservator of forest (wildlife), said: “The central government has approved the plan and a high-level team of senior forest officials, wildlife experts and veterinarians will now be visiting Karnataka soon to give the final shape to the plan.”
“Of the 12 elephants, four will be given to PTR and the remaining eight will go to DTR. We have made the preliminary identification of elephants matching to our needs. The elephants will now go through a medical test,” said Upadhyay.
“After they are brought from Karnataka, the elephants will be kept separately for at least four-six months to make them adapt local environmental and geographical conditions. The elephants will also be tested for effects of local conditions on them during their period. The quarantine will be developed in surroundings of DTR in Kheri district.”
The prime function of these elephants would be field patrolling; besides, they would also play a crucial role in combing agricultural fields for tigers, he said.
As of now, the DTR has as many as 14 patrolling elephants, including two calves, but many of them are 55-60 years old. “These aging elephants will now be replaced by young pachyderms to continue with unabated patrolling in the adjoining forest area between India and Nepal’s Royal Shukla Phanta Wildlife Reserve,” he said.
During monsoon, the movement of vehicles or pedestrian forest guards is difficult in many parts of the forest due to swamp and waterlogging; in such a situation, pachyderms remain only means of patrolling, said Upadhyay.
Kheri-based WWF, India, regional coordinator Dr Mudit Gupta said, “DTR has a considerable population of 35-40 rhinoceros, which are endangered due to high demand of their horns. And thus, the replacement of aging elephants for the security of rhinos from poachers, especially from the Indo-Nepal border, is essential.”
PTR divisional forest officer Kailsh Prakash said of the four elephants, two would be kept in the Mala forest range, while the other two at Mustafabad.
Asked about trained mahouts, DTR field director Sunil Chaudhay said four mahouts of DTR would accompany the team visiting Karnataka on September 18 to study elephants’ behaviour. The authorities concerned in Karnataka had been urged to provide mahouts with elephants, he added.