Malai jumbos on way to Western Ghats - The New Indian Express

Malai jumbos on way to Western Ghats

Published: 30th August 2013 08:34 AM

Last Updated: 30th August 2013 08:35 AM

The forest department officials concluded operation ‘Malai’ on Thursday after translocating all of the six elephants from reserve forest area in the Eastern Ghats to elephant camps in the Western Ghats.

The elephants were transported to camps in Topslip and Mudumalai from Thandrampet. Mahouts and kavadis (helpers) were assigned for each elephant. After performing pujas, the mahouts and kavadis left the Pennaiyar Reserve Forest with the pachyderms to the designated camps. The kumkis, brought to help the officials in executing the operation, were taken to the Central State Seed Farm at Melchengam, for a day’s rest.

Although the forest officials experienced a sense of accomplishment after carrying out the the operation successfully, they admitted that Jawadhu Hills would never see the footprints of such majestic animals again.

However, a lone tusker, which had separated from the herd, remains in the Alangayam reserve forest in Tirupattur Division. Officials said jumbos, which are part of the bio-diversity of the area, would be wiped out if the lone tusker is removed from the range. The herd with 13 members had migrated to Jawadhu Hills from Rayakotta in AP in 1986 and had reduced to six.

The operation was kick-started on Tuesday in Pennaiyar Reserve Forest. Forty anti-poaching guards and 60 elephant trackers were pressed into action along with eight veterinarians to tranquillise the jumbos. On the first day, the team had darted a tusker,  nicknamed as Othaikomban, and the matriarch (F1), leaving the rest of the herd leaderless.

The team of veterinarians, led by Dr N S Manoharan and Dr Kalaivanan, had darted a young female elephant, aged about 10 years, at 11.4 5 am on Wednesday and subsequently chained it next to the matriarch. Though the rest of the group retreated to the forest, the herd’s second eldest female elephant (F2) was sedated at 4.40 pm. However, the tranquilliser was ineffective. The female elephant along with the calf and a sub-adult male elephant ventured into the sugarcane field around 7.30 pm. The veterinarians riding atop three kumkis surrounded the three pachyderms and sedated them. Later they were tethered to coconut trees.

The officials resumed the operation on Thursday and pushed three of the tranquillised elephants into lorries with the help of kumkis.  The matriarch and the second eldest female elephant would be transported to elephant camp in Topslip, while F3 al-ong with the two male elephant would be sent to elephant camp in Mudumalai.

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