TN Forest Department for synchronised wild elephant census

Chennai, Mar 23 (IANS): The Tamil Nadu Forest Department has pitched for a synchronised census of wild elephants along with its counterparts from neighbouring Kerala and Karnataka to "avoid double entries".

TN Forest Department sources told IANS that it has already communicated to the Forest Departments of Kerala and Karnataka in this regard.

The immediate reason for the synchronised elephant census is following the death of a wild female elephant who was injured in the mouth. The elephant, detected by the Forest Task Force of Tamil Nadu in the deep forests of Karamadai forest range, was found to be having difficulties in taking food. The forest officials captured the elephant and shifted it to Anamalai Tiger Reserve (ATR) for treatment but it did not respond to treatment and died on March 19. On a post-mortem examination, it was found that the elephant was injured after biting an "avattukai" (country-made bomb).

The animal, according to the veterinarians who conducted its postmortem, was suffering from mouth ulcers and had gangrenous wounds making it totally difficult to take food. This led to its sudden death.

The Tamil Nadu Forest Department said that the elephant would not have bitten the crude bomb in the state but added that it could be from Kerala. The Karamadai Forest Range is adjacent to the Mannarcaud forest range in Kerala and there is the possibility of the animal coming from there.

Forest officials said that with a synchronised census of wild elephants and proper documentation, there can be an exact idea of number of elephants in the forests of each state, and with proper data of each elephant, there can be more understanding of that elephant and its mannerisms.

Conservator of Forests and Anamalai Tiger Reserve Field Director S. Balasubramanian, said that the department was seeking a meeting with the Palakkad forest range officials.

He said that the Tamil Nadu Forest Department will be deploying officials in seven forest ranges of the state to conduct a detailed investigation on the illegal use of "avattukai" that was being used to hunt down boars. The special teams would also check on the illegal fencing that was connected with high voltage power lines leading to the death of wild elephants by electrocution.

Three female elephants were killed recently in Tamil Nadu's Dharmapuri district after coming in contact with live electric fencing while trying to enter a farm. The farmer, who did the illegal connection, Murugan was arrested and sent to judicial custody.

The state Forest Department has commenced a series of awareness programmes among the public against illegal installation of electric fences as also use of high blast sounds that would provoke the elephant.



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