‘Op Black’ suspended as ‘Karuppan’ evades capture once again

The elephant, which joined a herd of nine elephants over the last few days to stay inside the reserve forest area, turned up for crop raiding at Kalmandipuram in Jeerahalli forest range on Wednesday night.
Representative image
Representative image

COIMBATORE: ‘Operation Black’ to capture crop-raiding wild elephant nicknamed ‘Karuppan’ has been suspended temporarily by the forest department as the animal evaded capture once again despite being darted thrice with tranquilizer shots in Sathyamangalam on Thursday early morning.

The elephant, which joined a herd of nine elephants over the last few days to stay inside the reserve forest area, turned up for crop raiding at Kalmandipuram in Jeerahalli forest range on Wednesday night.

“It was tracked and darted with tranquilliser shots by the forest veterinarian in the morning. Soon, the elephant entered Jeerahalli forest range and reached Mudiyanur forest area through Thiginarai. Even though the elephant was shot with two more rounds of tranquilizer darts inside the forest area, the animal could not be sedated completely and it managed to disappear,” said an official.

In an earlier attempt, on the third day of operation on 14 January, the elephant was darted with tranquilizer shots twice, however, it couldn’t be sedated and the animal retreated into the forest area then too.

Following two unsuccessful attempts, the forest department has temporarily suspended the operation to capture Karuppan for a few days until the elephant comes over from the impact of sedation.

“As Karuppan is largely dependent on pesticide high farm crops for consumption, it is causing a slowdown in the intensity of tranquilizers. Hence, it has been decided to use alternative medicines on the advice of veterinarians while resuming the capturing operation,” added an official.

Meanwhile, the forest department has appealed to villagers to be cautious when Karuppan ventures into farm lands for crop raiding. Over 100 staff of the forest department, three kumkis and drones were engaged in Operation Black, which commenced on 12 January. It was decided to capture Karuppan as efforts by the forest department to prevent the animal from frequenting farms in villages in Thalavadi range to raid crops turned futile. It has also attacked two farmers to death.

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