COIMBATORE: Successfully executing the Mission Madukkarai Maharaj, the Forest Department on Sunday tranquilised the lone tusker and captured it with the help of kumkis.
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The rogue tusker has been frequently damaging crops in Madukkarai area for the past three years and had killed two persons, including a forest watcher.
Following requests from farmers and the public, Chief Wildlife Warden V K Melkani on June 8 ordered that the tusker be captured.
A team headed by Additional Principal Chief Conservator of Forest I Anwardeen, rangers, guards, anti-poaching watchers, tribal youth from Anamalai Tiger Reserve (ATR), Mudumalai Tiger Reserve and four kumkis — Kaleem (51), Sujay (37), Vijay (37) and Pari (41) — camped on the city’s outskirts near Navakkarai.
On Saturday, the forest officials spotted the wild tusker alone at Ettimadai. Subsequently, they pinpointed him to a spot in Madukkarai.
Around 11.15 pm on Saturday, the tusker entered a human habitation in Madukkarai. A medical team, including forest veterinarian N S Manoharan, E Vijayaraghavan and District Forest Officer Periyasamy, then set on the tranquilisation job.
When the elephant was about to return to the forest around 4 am, the forest veterinary team spotted it clearly. After a struggle of 45 minutes, they managed to inject the sedative into its body. As the tusker took refuge in the reserve forest area, anti-poaching watchers prevented it from going deep into the forest.
Meanwhile, kumkis Kaleem, Sujai and Pari were brought to the spot to make the wild tusker board the Forest Department vehicle. With the help of the kumkis, forest staff tied a thick rope across the tusker’s neck and legs. The kumkis struggled hard to goad the tusker into the vehicle. According to foresters, Kaleem played a major role in successfully completing its 48th operation.
The wild tusker was taken to Kozhi Kamudhi elephant camp at ATR.
“We have been tracking the tusker’s movement. As it looked healthy, we planned to tranquilise it on Sunday. First, an anaesthetic was given to keep the animal dizzy. As it is not safe for the elephant to remain in a sedated state for long, we also injected an anti-anaesthetic drug after the relocation process got over,” said Manoharan.
“We got good support from the medical team. Usually, the lone tusker enters human habitation between 9 and 10 pm. But on Saturday night, it entered by 11 pm. Likewise, it returns to the forest between 5.30 and 7 am. But on Sunday, it was back at 4 am, which was a great advantage for our team,” said Periyasamy.