Two years ago, Chinnathambi, the famous lonely tusker of the Coimbatore forest circle was captured and converted into a captive elephant. Now the gentle jumbo is a case study for the young TN foresters and is one of the disciplined captive elephants maintained by the forest department. The TN forest department had also compiled a nine minutes’ video on Chinnathambi where the nuances and aspects that should be followed while capturing a wild elephant is discussed with scientific pieces of evidence for foresters to study about the animal conflicts and their rescue operations.
One of the interesting factors in the video is the bonding behaviour of elephants are explained. “Chinnathambi a lonely tusker develops a relationship with a female elephant and a calf. The presence of this cow elephant and its calf not only disturbs the translocation operation but to the surprise of veterinarians Chinnathambi was conscious despite sedation, only after the two elephants were moved out from the sight of Chinnathambi through kumkis, Chinnathambi started showing signs of sedation, reveals the video. These are minute behavioural studies that are essential for foresters and animal behaviourists,” opined conservation scientist A Kumaraguru of Biodiversity Conservation Foundation, Trichy. Kumaraguru who is also a member of temple elephant monitoring committees said elephants are emotional and they need socialisation like humans.
The TN forest department in 2013 took a major translocation programme, which is one of the most successful in South Asia known as operation Malai in which six jumbos were successfully translocated, the biologist said. From the forest department’s point of view, it is a great effort by the foresters to translocate six elephants without any casualties, but as a conservationist, I feel that the Tiruvanamalai forest landscape in the eastern ghats is now a poor ecosystem without the elephants, Kumaraguru explained.
In the wake of elephant conflicts being an ongoing study, the foresters have intensified their observation on elephant behaviours and social characteristics for better management of elephant landscape along western ghats. The newly appointed chief wildlife warden Shekhar Niraj has formed a think tank cell to advise the wildlife wing and come out with Standard operating Procedures on elephants and their landscape management. Niraj will be at Mudumalai and Theppakadu on Saturday and Sunday to inspect the Rivaldo elephant and review the status of other kumkis reared by the department. The warden had also invited the local foresters to share their latest information on emerging wildlife conflict zones and areas where animal encounters have been recently reported in Nilgiris.