Forest dept wants to capture 200 jumbos, create 25 camps
The State Forest department is all set to capture around 150 to 200 wild elephants that are “in continued conflict with humans”, and hold them captive to put an end to the problem “once and for all.”
These elephants, to be housed in newly created elephant camps, will be used during rescue operations in cities and rural areas.
According to Principal Chief Conservator of Forests (Wildlife) G S Prabhu, the department would achieve this task in the next six months.
“During the final hearing before the High Court (September 2), on behalf of the department, I presented this proposal. If these 150 to 200 elephants in ‘removal zones’ are captured, then the man-animal conflict will stop. The department is waiting for the judgement, but in the meanwhile preparations are afoot,” he told Deccan Herald.
The Karnataka High Court-appointed Elephant Task Force had proposed the capture of the 25-odd elephants in Alur taluk in Hassan district, and the government has given its consent for it. Alur stands witness to both human and elephant deaths, apart from extensive crop damage. This was thought to be the best solution, as the Task Force’s other recommendation was the ‘shoot at sight’ (elephants) order in conflict zones.
Prabhu said that along with the Alur elephants, around 60 elephants found in Kodagu district too would be captured. “There are a total of 164 elephants in Kodagu, but 60 elephants are residential.
The remaining hundred are seen coming in from Nagarahole and Kerala ranges. But it is these 60 elephants that have been causing problems to human settlements and they will be captured. The remaining elephants have been identified, for which the department will also seek the assistance of experts and consultants.”
The department plans to set up about 25 elephant camps to house the captured jumbos. The camps will be set up alongside Rapid Response Teams.
The intention behind setting up these many camps is to “reduce the response time” taken during rescue operations.
“We had to wait for over 12 hours for trained elephants to be brought from the Mysore division, to drive out the elephants that had entered Bangalore recently. But if there are more camps in each sensitive division (Chikmagalur, Bangalure Rural, Mysore, Hassan, Kodagu, Chamarajanagar), then the response time can be reduced,” he added.
The IFS officer said that in the process of capturing the jumbos, many complex issues had to be dealt with.
“Once the elephants are identified, we have to decide the males and females of which herd to be captured. This is crucial as we have to make sure that we leave behind a healthy breeding population, and maintain the gender ratio,” he said.
Presently, there are over 100 elephants in 10 camps, namely Sakkarebylu, Bandipur, Rampura, Mattigod, Balle, K Gudi, Dubare, Bannerghatta, Mysore Zoo and Aanekadu.