The Forest department has started a de-worming drive for wild elephants from last weekend. The drive has started in the Mettupalayam and Sirumugai Range with personnel placing salt licks and de-worming pellets near 19 water bodies where jumbos drink water regularly. Camera traps are used to monitor the elephants consuming the pellets.
This is an initiative to prevent elephant deaths due to worms in the intestine. In the last 40 days the district lost seven elephants. While the cause of death varied, one of the factors was identified as ill health as a result of worms in the intestine. This was revealed in the post-mortem report of two elephants.
Elephants with worms grow pale. It is easier to prevent them from contracting worms than identifying and treating them, said an official from the department. The officer said the drive is carried out now as water is getting collected in puddles in the wild during monsoon.
While salt licks build immunity, the de-worming pellets that are mixed with minor millets and jaggery (a treat for elephants) wash away the worms from the intestine. Stating that it would be sufficient even if the elephants consumed a little quantity of the salt licks and de-worming pellets a couple of times, department personnel said that it will not harm the animal if the intake was more.
Herbivores such as deer and bison are also directly benefited in the de-worming drive for elephants, as they too suffer from worms in the intestine and the mixture helps them. Stocks of salt licks and de-worming pellets are placed in a visible place near water sources and are replaced every day.
They have been placed at 15 places in the forest in Mettupalayam range including seven natural water sources for wild animals and the rest are artificially created water sources.
Forest officers said that the de-worming drive would soon commence in the five other ranges in the district – Karamadai, Periyanaickenpalayam, Coimbatore, Bolampatti and Madukkarai.