The Tamil Nadu forest department has taken up radio-collaring of problematic elephants on the borders with Karnataka.
Tough there is no such proposal before the state government, Karnataka forest department officials say Tamil Nadu’s move will benefit them too.
The Karnataka forest department had radio-collared a female elephant from a herd of five for six months. She was one of the 23 problematic elephants from Alur, Hassan. The Karnataka High Court had directed the state forest department to capture and relocate elephants in Alur. One herd was shifted to Kollegal, and the leader female was radio-collared.
Raman Sukumar, elephant expert and professor at the Centre for Ecological Sciences, Indian Institute of Science, who is part of the elephant radio-collaring drive in Tamil Nadu, told Deccan Herald that talks to radio collar problematic elephants in Karnataka have been on for the last two years.
In the case of Tamil Nadu, talks were on for one-and-half years. The need for radio-collaring elephants came up because of increasing man-elephant conflict. Elephants frequent areas around Bannerghatta National Park, Tumakuru and Hosur connecting Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh.
There is a need to understand why they are entering agricultural lands and from where. The initial plan is radio collar six, including a tusker, a female and the head of a large herd. There is a need to understand their movement and landscape before relocating them, Sukumar added.
This will start from July and will take a year, since two elephants will be radio-collared at a time. Radio-collaring gains a lot of importance in the wake of deaths of tigers and leopards in the past. Radio-collaring has been successful in West Bengal and Sri Lanka and is being continued.
Dilipkumar Das, Additional Principal Chief Conservator of Forests, Project Elephant, said so far, only one elephant has been radio-collared. It was done on a short-term experimental basis to track movement and the mingling of relocated herds with others. There is no proposal in Karnataka presently as there are no rogue elephants to be captured. But the project of Tamil Nadu forest officials will benefit Karnataka also, he said.
The state forest department, locals and conservationists have been dealing with elephants raiding coffee estates in Kodagu for very long. Repeated instances of elephants moving around Mysuru like H D Kote and T Narsipur are also reported.