After three days and three nights of continuous tracking, the Forest department team successfully cornered one tusker at around 7.20 amon Wednesday.
By 8.40 am, the elephant was darted, captured and is now ready to be relocated to Bandipur Tiger Reserve. But the task is not yet over. The department, along with experts and conservationists, is on the lookout for two more tuskers to be captured.
The exercise is part of efforts to ensure the safety of the animals, in the wake of the electrocution of two elephants in the recent past.
D Manjunath, Deputy Conservator of Forests, Ramanagaram forest division told DH that the team of around 100 forest officials zeroed in on one tusker, aged around 25 years, at Nijigal forest near Nelamangala.
“The operation will continue on Thursday as we have to capture the other tuskers,” he said. Soon after the elephant was captured, wildlife veterinarian Dr Umashankar and his team took him to Moolehole forest range in Bandipur Tiger Reserve. “The captured tusker is nine feet tall and weighs around four tonnes. He is a healthy male and has no injuries.
Three camp tuskers Abhimanyu, Gajendra and Krishna are accompanying the wild tusker,” Umashankar said. The elephant needs to be released into the wild, for which the help of the camp elephants is needed.
The department has not radio-collared the animal. But a team of forest watchers in the tiger reserve will keep a watch on his movements to ensure that he adjusts well to the surroundings. Moolehole has been chosen because it is a green patch and has waterholes, said a forest staffer.
Soon after the elephant was captured, local residents started saying that ‘Rowdy Ranga’ had been captured. The pachyderm was usually sighted wandering between Savandurga and Bannerghatta National Park. D Mahesh Kumar, Deputy Conservator of Forests, Bengaluru Rural, said Ranga was a lone tusker and if there was any crop raid or such other incident, people blamed him, calling him ‘Rowdy Ranga’.
“These animals are young and in their dispersal age (when they leave their parental group). They are just exploring new territories. Elephants roaming between Ramanagaram and Nelamangala raid crops in search of food. It is incorrect to blame one tusker and call him names,” he said.