Forest officials on Day Two of Operation Malai, tranquilised two female elephants, reducing the strength of the herd to two.
One of the sedated female elephants, however, remained active and strayed into a sugarcane field along with a calf and a sub-adult male elephant, till it was successfully tranquilised late in the evening.
Around 11.45 am, a 10-year-old female elephant was sedated inside the Pennaiyar Reserve Forest area. The rest of the herd then retreated into the forest and was not spotted till 4.40 pm. The pachyderms kept dodging the forest officials for nearly five hours. Another female elephant, aged about 15 years, which was guarding two young elephants, stepped out of the forest.
The Anamalai Tiger Reserve Range Officer then fired a dart at the elephant before it ran away into the forest. However, the sudden showers in the area reduced the effect of the drug on the elephant, said officials.
The animal remained active unlike the three other elephants that were tranquillised earlier. It then sprinted into a sugarcane field after crossing the Thandrampet-Thanipadi Road around 7.30 pm along with the two young elephants.
Forest officials said an elephant would enter semi-conscious state and become still within 20 to 30 minutes of sedation.
The combination of Xylazine and Ketamine failed to have its effect on the young female elephant even three hours after sedating it. “The proposition of the two drugs will vary from each elephant based on its size, age and weight,” said a forest official.
The dart fired at the female elephant may not have been filled with the right correct proportion of drugs, he said and added that the sharp showers that lasted for nearly an hour could be another reason. However, another successful tranquiliser shot late in the evening brought the animal under control.
Earlier, Khalim, Vijay and Sajay, three of the five kumki elephants were pressed into action to contain the three elephants. Veterinarian Dr Manoharan along with his team was tracking the elephants with the help of two other kumkis.
The matriarch elephant captured on Tuesday and the female elephant tranquilised on Wednesday morning were chained just a few metres inside the forest area. “We chained the two eldest female elephants of the herd to lure the young ones to the spot. We fed the two elephants with banyan leaves, banana, stem of banana tree,” said Conservator of Forests (Vellore Circle) S Kalyanasundaram.
The tusker, which was tranquilised on Tuesday, was transported to the elephant camp at Top Slip in Pollachi in the early hours of Wednesday. “We moved the elephant into the lorry using the kumki elephants around midnight on Tuesday. The vehicle left at 1.30 am on Wednesday. On the way, the elephant was sedated again before it reached the elephant camp around noon,” he added.
Kumki Vijay that was used in tranquilising and translocation of the herd originally belonged to the same herd. Kumki elephant Suriya also was part of the herd.