MADIKERI: Kusha, the most-talked-about elephant of Dubare Camp, was radio collared and is being released into the Bandipur Tiger Reserve limits. This is being done following an order for the release from the state Wildlife PCCF.
29-year-old Kusha was captured by the Kodagu division forest department three years ago as the elephant had caused immense damages to crops and properties across Chettalli area in the district. However, Kusha escaped from captivity after he entered the musth period a year ago and returned to the forest in search of a mate. The department was on the lookout for the missing jumbo and re-captured him from Kandakere forest area near Chetalli. He was admitted back in the camp during the end of March this year.
Nevertheless, conservationists across the state objected to this move and alleged that Kusha was being badly treated at the Dubare Camp. Conservationist Menaka Gandhi spoke out against the forest department for re-capturing Kusha and demanded his immediate release from captivity. Further, a team of conservationists from People For Animals visited Dubare to study the ground reality.
“The team of conservationists certified us stating that we were nurturing Kusha with care. Kusha was not put inside the kraal and we did not have to re-tame him as he obeyed our orders despite being free from captivity for over a year. He was well looked after in the camp and the same was certified by the People For Animals team,” confirmed Ananya Kumar, Kushalnagar RFO.
However, voices continued to be raised against the captivity, demanding Kusha’s immediate release. A notification for the release of Kusha was passed by the state on April 20. But the release of Kusha was delayed due to the COVID situation even as the state Wildlife PCCF has now passed an order for his immediate release across Male Mahadeshwara Reserve forest limits.
Officials confirmed that Kusha has now been radio collared and is being shifted to be released in Mooleholey forest range in Bandipur Tiger Reserve. The Dubare Camp staff stated that they are in pain to let go of Kusha – who was mingling well with them and other camp elephants.
“Kusha has a small physique even though he is a male elephant. The Bandipur elephants have stronger physiques and it might be hard for Kusha to face the competition. He will be safe only if he familiarizes with the forest and finds a suitable herd. He cannot face competition from other male elephants as Kusha is tamed and less aggressive than other male elephants,” shared a camp forest staffer requesting anonymity.