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Four months on, Vinayaga shakes off radio collar

When the GPS signal from the collar remained stationary, Forest department officials initially suspected that Vinayaga was in trouble.

Published: 01st May 2019 05:44 AM  |   Last Updated: 01st May 2019 05:44 AM   |  A+A-

File picture of Vinayag with the radio collar | Express

By Express News Service

COIMBATORE: Little over four months after Chinna Thadagam’s beloved aggressor Vinayaga was captured and relocated to the forests of Mudumalai Tiger Reserve (MTR), the jumbo has managed to shake off the radio collar that had been tracking him. The device has reportedly been emitting signals from a static location for over two weeks, instead of showing the movement of the animal. The weight loss that Vinayaga had suffered since the relocation is suspected to have led to the collar slipping off its neck. 

When the GPS signal from the collar remained stationary, Forest department officials initially suspected that Vinayaga was in trouble. After they arrived at the location indicated by the signals, they found only the collar there and not the elephant it had been tracking. While ground-level staff are yet to spot the animal, MTR authorities have written to the chief wildlife warden about the incident and are awaiting further instructions.

Speaking to Express about the incident, a senior official of the MTR suggested that the collar had probably been dislodged owing to Vinayaga weight loss. When the jumbo had been in Coimbatore forest division, his food source had chiefly been crops grown in the area.

After his relocation to Muduamalai, he had to contend with food that was vastly different from what he had grown accustomed to. Hence, he had lost weight. The collar could have become lose and slipped off his neck, the official surmised. Though it has been two weeks since Vinayaga has fallen off the radar, there has been no report of him having surfaced in human habitats. This could be because he adapted to his new home and finally shed his crop-raiding ways, the official said.

It may be recalled that it was after six months of trouble — with damage to crops, property and people — that Vinayaga was tranquilised and captured in Chinna Thadagam on December 18, 2018. He was then fitted with a GPS-enabled radio collar that had been sponsored by WWF (World Wide Fund) at 1.80 lakh. The collar had last been used to track a particularly aggressive and invasive female jumbo in 2011. 

‘Jumbo lost weight due to change in food habit’
Speaking to Express about the incident, a senior official of the MTR suggested that the collar had probably been dislodged owing to Vinayaga weight loss. When the jumbo had been in Coimbatore forest division, his food source had chiefly been crops grown in the area. After his relocation to Muduamalai, he had to contend with food that was vastly different from what he had grown accustomed to. Hence, he had lost weight


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