Uttarakhand rogue elephant gives hard time to search parties

Dehra Dun : All efforts to trace the elephant, which took five lives during the past three months and was declared a rogue by the Uttarakhand forest department because of pressure by the people, over the past fortnight seem to have gone abegging as the pachyderms was simply not visible despite hectic searches.

Teams of experts, drawn from the state forest department, Wildlife Institute of India and specially called from Assam alongwith trained elephants have been combing the forests in the Narender Nagar forest division and adjoining forests have so far drawn a blank.

This has also raised doubts over allegations by local residents that the elephant is a habitual visitor to the inhabited localities in the region, with a tendency to kill. As of now it seems that the elephant is as normal as his brethren in the wild and has taken to the forests.

The experts who have decided to tranquilise the animal and shift it to another forest division where there is lesser infiltration by human beings, have also selected the flat and thinner forest tracts where the elephant can be tranquilised, so that the animal does not suffer much injury.

Meanwhile, as human-elephant conflict in the region increases because of the large tracts that were corridors along which the pachyderms moved from one forest range to another having been settled upon by man and localities come up, the Uttarakhand government has decided upon a Rs 10 crore project to put radio collars on the wild elephants.

The project, which will take about five years to complete envisages that as the elephant herds come in a radius of about one kms from the inhabited localities, there will be SMS messages to the gram pradhans, forest rangers, guards, police officials and others concerned of the approaching elephants so that measures can be taken to drive them back to the forests.

Sources told the Hill Post that elephants inhabiting the forest tracts where there is maximum complaints by the villagers would be radio-collared first, followed by areas where there are lesser complaints. Glow signs would also be put up in areas close to the forests, where the elephants are normally known to move about in search of fodder to warn civilians moving in these areas.

They said that efforts would also be made to develop other forest corridors at a distance from inhabited localities so that elephants can start using them for migration from one forest range to another and more staff enlisted for patrolling the forests to keep track of movement by the elephants.

A journalist with over 40 years of experience, Jagdish Bhatt is Editor (Uttarakhand) at Himachal Media. Jagdish has worked with India's leading English dailies, which include Times of India, Indian Express, Pioneer and several other reputed publications. A highly acclaimed journalist, Jagdish is a recipient of many awards, latest being the 2011 Development Journalism Award. He lives in Dehra Dun.

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