Mission to secure rogue tusker turns tough as it joins herd (Coimbatore, India)


Times of India

Date Published

Mission Madukkarai Maharaj has been further complicated as the rogue
lone tusker, which recently began roaming with two other elephants,
has now joined another herd of four wild elephants, increasing the
herd size to seven. With the herd consisting of two female elephants,
the wait to catch the rogue tusker alone may be a long one, say

Mock drills are now being conducted to keep the four kumkis on alert.

The forest department, which has set up a camp in Navakkarai since
Monday evening, failed to spot the elephant walking along its usual
route since Wednesday evening. “The elephant usually crosses the
Madukkarai Road and enters the army cantonment located opposite the
forest. Mattathukadu forest is on the right of the army cantonment.
There are a few plains on the left. The elephant usually moves into
the forest,” a senior forest ranger, Manikandan said. “However, since
the tusker began moving with a bigger herd, it has not taken its usual
route. Nevertheless, some anti-poaching staff and Adivasis spotted the
tusker with a herd of six other elephants since Thursday evening,” he

The forest officials are worried because the new herd has two female
elephants. “June is their mating season. The presence of the female
elephants has attracted three tuskers, which have joined the group.
The presence of females will delay the process of isolating the
rogue,” said the ranger. “However, since he is an outsider and used to
being alone, he is not expected to move with them for too long. It may
take a day or a week, we can’t really predict,” he said.

Foresters feel it is critical that the rogue tusker is isolated before
it is tranquillised. “Otherwise, the other wild elephants will not
allow us near him,” Manikandan explained.

“Once the tranquilliser hits, the elephant will run for a while and
then stop. Using our four kumkis and their mahouts, we will surround
the rogue,” Manikandan said. “Usually the drowsy elephant will not try
anything, and even if it does, the kumkis will subdue it immediately,”
he said.

Once he is surrounded, the Adivases will tie a rope around its neck
and will load him into the vehicle. A new rope has been given to the
Adivasis for the process. “We will have to be careful while
tranquillising the elephant because when it runs amok, there are
chances it might slip and fall on the rocky terrain,” he further said.