Forest department to study possibility of releasing rogue jumbo PM2
However, the state forest official’s decision was questioned by conservationists as they alleged a violation of norms.
THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: The Forest Department has constituted a five-member committee to study the possibility of releasing rogue elephant PM2 (Pandalur Makhan), which was captured from Wayanad in January this year. The development came after conservationists pointed out gross violations in the capture and caging of the wild elephant.
Kerala forest officials decided to capture PM2 after it wandered into Sultan Bathery town in Wayanad on January 9, 2023. The 15-year-old elephant, which was earlier radio-collared by Tamil Nadu officials, was caged in the Muthanga Elephant Camp. However, the state forest official’s decision was questioned by conservationists as they alleged a violation of norms.
“The Wayanad forest division officials had prior knowledge about the location of this wild elephant as it was monitored through radio collar”, a conservation expert told TNIE. According to the reports from the forest officials, a copy of which is with TNIE, “this radio-collared elephant was captured by the Tamil Nadu forest officials and released near Sathyamangalam forest on December 8, 2022.” The conservation expert alleged that the elephant was caught after it was chased into the forest.
PM2 was captured from a location that was 2 kilometres in the forest area. In addition, while capturing, the elephant was with a herd, and the forest officials had to disperse the herd to dart PM2”, the conservationist said.
After the lapses were pointed out, Ganga Singh, the Principal Chief Conservator of Forest (Wildlife), constituted a committee to look into the possibility of releasing PM2 to its natural habitat or to the home range. The committee headed by the Chief Wildlife Warden, Palakkad, has been asked to submit suggestions for the same. However, CCF Mohammad Sahab told TNIE that the committee is yet to convene a meeting.
Similar lapses in the Arikomban mission
Conservationists also point out that there are similar lapses in the case of Arikomban, another rogue tusker.
“The whole process violates the state Chief Wildlife Warden’s directions, dated February 21,” a forest official from Munnar told TNIE.
“As per the directions and the wildlife conservation laws, the rogue elephant must be captured by darting, radio-collared and released into another forest area. Once radio-collared, the officials can detect its movement. Even after its relocation, if the elephant returns to the same place, then it could be captured,” the official said.