Rogue elephant released into the wild, alert on (Coimbatore, India)


The Times of India

Date Published

Coimbatore: The 18-year-old rogue elephants that rampaged through the outskirts of the city early on Friday killing four people, injuring an equal number and spreading terror was released into the reserve forest at Anaikundhi near Varagaliyar elephant camp the same night. It had been captured by the forest department in a nine-hour operation. The forest department has deployed more than 20 anti-poaching watchers (APWs) led by a forest ranger at the Anaikundhi area to monitor the tusker.

Initially the department planned to keep the animal in a krawl (a wooden enclosure where captured wild elephants are confined for training) in the Varagaliyar elephant camp. However, after forest department officials discussed the matter with forest department minister Dindigul C Srinivasan, it was decided to release the animal into the reserve forest.

The captured male elephant was transported to the Varagaliyar elephant camp from Vellalapalayam near Vellalore in Coimbatore and later taken 5 km away in a truck and released around 11.30 pm on Friday.

In June 22, 2016, a wild elephant from Madukkarai was captured and kept inside the krawl at Varagaliyar, but it died after it hit its head in the krawl. Forest department sources said that after the death of Madukkarai Maharaj, as it was called, the officials decided to release the captured elephant into the reserve forest.

V Ganeshan, field director of Anaimalai Tiger Reserve (ATR), told media persons that the department used to train captured elephants which are aged below 10. But one that is 16-20 years old would be very difficult to train.

“Our forest APWs and officials will monitor the movement of the released male elephant for at least 15 days in the Anaikundhi forest area. There is plenty of water and fodder for the animal. This forest is completely different from the Madukkarai forest range. The elephant released more than 70 km from Madukkarai cannot go back to the Madukkarai forest range,” said V Subbaiah, district forest officer, Pollachi forest range.

However, many environmental activists suggested the forest department should fix radio collars on captured elephant. It would help to monitor the movement of the animal with the help of GPS. But forest department officials claimed they do not have sufficient funds. So they are not in a position to procure gadgets to track the captured elephant.