The forest department has engaged 100 elephant trackers to monitor the movement of the herd of six wild elephants, which has been wandering along the Villupuram-Tiruvannamalai border area for the last few months. On Sunday afternoon, the herd was downstream the Sathanur pick-up dam in Rayandapuram.
Forest officials said they were well prepared for the task of driving the herd to the Central-State Seed Farm at Melchengam, about 20 km from the herd’s present location, where the elephants would be tranquillised. “We have engaged elephant trackers, tribes from Anamalai and Muthumalai, in Rayandapuram where the herd is presently camped. They are monitoring the movement of the herd,” said a senior forest official. The five kumki elephants, which reached the district on Saturday late evening, are currently resting in Melchengam.
The department is all set with four tranquillizing guns, medicine and vehicles to transport the jumbos to the camps in Anamalai and Top Slip. “Of the 11-member expert team, four have already reached Tiruvannamalai and seven others will reach tonight. We will start the operation by Monday,” said the official on Sunday. Additional Chief Conservator of Forest Malkani would lead the team. The forest officials have planned to drive the elephants from the present location to Melchangem via Keel Ravanthavadi, Roadpalayam, Veeranam, Sathanur, Arratavadi, Mel Vanagampadi and Melpallipattu.
Stopping villagers from going close to the herd had turned into another daunting task for the forest department personnel.
“The jumbos have turned crowed pullers, attracting hundreds of villagers in and around Chengam. We are finding it difficult to maintain the crowd. We need a peaceful atmosphere and vast plain area to tranquillize the wild animals,” said another forest official. Collector A Gnanasekaran said, “Giving paramount importance to the safety of public, we have urged the public not to venture anywhere near the route through which the herd will be guided to the government seed farm in Melchengam.”
The SPs striking force and fire service personnel have been deployed in the areas for safety. A medical team has also been deployed in the locality to attend to any emergency, he added.