Mahout, kavadi protest hits elephant capture operation

Last Updated 23 March 2014, 17:37 IST

Forest department has captured 10 of the 25 jumbos till date

The arrest of a kavadi on charge of setting fire to Nagarahole National Park has affected the elephant capture operation in Hassan district.

A few mahouts and kavadis of Mattigodu elephant camp, who were part of the elephant capture operation in Alur and Sakleshpur taluks of Hassan district, had returned to the camp to protest against the arrest, forcing the Forest department to temporarily call off the elephant capture operation. However, officials said, the capture operation would resume in the next few days.

Speaking to Deccan Herald, Ganesh Bhat, Deputy Conservator of Forests, Hassan, said, a few mahouts and kavadis had left for Mattigodu elephant camp. “Though they were expected to return and resume the operation on Sunday, they are yet to arrive,” he said.

It can be recalled that J R Vinu, a former temporary employee of the Forest department, was arrested by Ponnampet police in relation to the forest fire incident at Nagarahole National Park, triggering protests by mahouts and kavadis. The protestors had urged the officials concerned to withdraw the cases lodged against Vinu, and had claimed that he was framed in the incident.

Forest department officials, who had achieved a considerable success in the capture operation in recent days, had to call off the operation, owing to the protest.

10 captures

Till date, the Forest department has captured a total of 10 elephants, which have been shifted to various elephant camps such as the Mattigodu camp. Ganesh said, 15 elephants remain to be captured in Alur and Sakleshpur taluks.

The Elephant Task Force had recommended the capture of 25 elephants, following a increase in conflict with humans. Elephant attacks in the region had caused the death of more than 30 people in the last 10 years.

Devaraj M K, Range Forest Officer of Alur Forest division, said, almost all the huge male elephants have been captured and only calves and female elephants remain. The Forest department officials had expected to capture as many elephants as possible, prior to the onset of monsoons.

 However, officials are confident that protests of kavadis and mahouts will end soon and the remaining elephants will be captured ahead of the monsoon.

(Published 23 March 2014, 17:33 IST)

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