12 elephants from Karnataka to make Uttarakhand their home (India)


Mohit Rao, The Hindu

Date Published

A few years ago, they struck ‘fear’ into the hearts of villagers and farmers in Karnataka. Now, a dozen ‘former rogues’ from the State will head towards Himalayan forests to strike fear into poachers and encroachers.

Twelve elephants from three camps in southern Karnataka are poised to make a mammoth 2,600-km journey towards Corbett Tiger Reserve in Uttarakhand.

The request had come from the Uttarakhand Forest Department after their camps needed pachyderms to capture rogue elephants and patrol the forests, particularly during the monsoon. The request was approved by the Ministry of Environment and Forests and Central Zoo Authority, and the official government order has reached the Forest Department here.

“This is an exchange between State governments and in some ways, a genetic exchange for the elephant population,” said C. Jayaram, Additional Principal Chief Conservator of Forests (Wildlife).

Four from Dubare, two from Muthodi, and six from Bannerghatta camps have been chosen in consultation with both States. All are between 25 and 30 years (allowing for at least 30 years in the camps as well as ideal ages for breeding) and have been tamed to a degree, says the forest official. It will, however, take some time before the elephants leave their current homes, he explains. Mahouts from Uttarakhand will be trained by the mahouts here, while a detailed itinerary for transportation will be chalked out. Elephants can either be transported by lorries or trains, with sufficient space and food (each elephant, after all, consumes more than 180 kg fodder). The maximum distance that can be covered in one stretch is just 200 km, following which the elephants will be taken to pre-identified nurseries or woods where it will be allowed to wander for at least 24 hours. The elephants will have an entourage of caretakers and doctors. All the costs will be borne by the Uttarakhand officials.

In Corbett, mahouts from the State will spend at least four months aiding the elephants to acclimatise to the environs. Even after that, Karnataka will keep a keen eye. “We will take back the elephants if we find any ill-treatment,” says Mr. Jayaram.