Field personnel of the Forest Department have begun an operation to tranquilise the ‘makhna’ elephant, which is said to be ‘resting’ in a coconut grove near Perur in Coimbatore division since Feb. 22 after straying out of the reserve forest in Pollachi division two days ago.
A ‘kumki’ elephant Chinnathambi has been brought to the spot for the operation to sedate the animal at the right moment and translocate it, in all likelihood, to a distant forest area, Forest Department sources said.
Three heavy duty vehicles have been stationed at the spot for the operation.
The elephant was weary on Feb. 23 after having walked for over 30 km on Feb. 22. The field staff are waiting for an apt moment to tranquilise the elephant while it is in a composed state, the sources said.
Farmers claimed, the elephant, estimated by the department to be about 40-years-old, had been raiding crops in Palacode area in Dharmapuri district for nearly a decade.
The jumbo will be radio-collared before transporting it for release in a suitable forest area. It was necessary to forewarn people before the elephant moves towards residential areas, Field Director of Anamalai Tiger Reserve S. Ramasubramanian said.
The elephant was actually captured in Palacode in Dharmapuri and released into the forest area in Varagaliyar near Top Slip in Anamalai Tiger Reserve (ATR) on February 6. The elephant was captured then as it became a habitual crop raider causing huge loss to farmers in a few villages in Dharmapuri.
Even though it was released into deep forest area in ATR, the animal returned to its usual antics by trekking more than 100 kms and intruded into farms and residential areas in Coimbatore outskirts.
It was finally decided to capture it as the elephant began to exhibit signs of aggression and attacked an elderly man, damaged the compound wall of a house and a Forest Department vehicle on Wednesday.
Also, persistent efforts by a large team of the Forest Department to drive the animal into the Madukkarai forest area turned futile. Finally, the elephant was darted with tranquilizer shots by a team of veterinarians, while it was in a farm behind the premises of a private college around 4 pm.
It was also fitted with a radio collar for constant monitoring of its movement. A large number of people have gathered to watch the operation of capturing the elephant.