Bid to radio collar wild elephant suspended in Mettupalayam as three kumkis
sent for rejuvenation (Coimbatore)
Pratiksha Ramkumar, Times of India
July 28, 2021
Three kumkis (captive elephants) that were brought from Anamalai Tiger
Reserve to help forest department officials radio collar a wild elephant in
Mettupalayam were on Wednesday sent back to Topslip
The forest department said the three kumkis that were brought to
Mettupalayam more than a month ago began undergoing physical changes,
including foot and leg injuries, due to a change in place forcing
them to take this decision. The project to radio collar the elephant has
also been postponed to post monsoon season.
The forest department had brought three kumkis—Kaleem, Venkatesh and
Mariappan—from ATR to Mettupalayam to help in a process to radio collar
wild elephant Baahubali. The male tusker elephant, Baahubali, had been a
known crop raider for the past three to four areas in the
Mettupalayam-Sirumugai Forest range.
“We decided to radio collar the elephant after we began receiving too many
complaints from farmers on crop damages. Baahubali also is so used to
humans and eating outside the forest, that it doesn’t respond to any of the
farmers or our scare tactics. He is not dangerous either,” said Sirumugai
forest officer, Senthil Kumar.
The decision to radio collar the elephant was taken to identify his forest
exit route and timings so they could send him back at the boundary itself
and also for research purposes like distance it travels within and outside
the forests, why it does not eat within the forest etc. “However, for radio
collaring we needed the elephant to come to a suitable place— a spot in
plains—by 5 pm. However, twice it came close to darkness and then began
avoiding us altogether,” said Senthil Kumar.
The rains on and off further hampered plans. However, by this time two of
three kumkis began getting physically stressed. “Two of them refused to lie
down throughout their time in Mettupalayam. Thus, they developed foot
injuries because of standing for days together putting so much weight on
their feet,” said another officer. “They couldn’t adapt to change of place
easily,” he added.
District forest officer Venkatesh Durairaj said it was “necessary to
rejuvenate the kumkis. The work to fix the radio collar will resume once
the appropriate season comes and the animal comes to the suitable place,”.
“It is also currently raining here and many rivers and streams within
forests receive high levels of water from the Ooty region. At present,
Baahubali is in the Nellithurai reserve forest area, which is an unsuitable
place to fix the collar,” he added.