Special operation to drive jumbos into Seshachalam hills

‘It is not possible to guide them to their habitat in T.N. as they have strayed too far’

Officials of the forest department have mooted a special action plan to drive the elusive “bachelor’s group” of wild elephants from Nagari plains into the Seshachalam ranges spread over Chittoor and Kadapa districts.

Divisional Forest Officer (Chittoor East Wildlife) G.G. Narentheran told The Hindu that the Principal Chief Conservator of Forests (PCCF) has sanctioned ₹10 lakh to launch a special operation to find a solution to the problem. A plan of action was chalked out at a meeting of forest officials chaired by the PCCF at Tirupati on Saturday.

The plan

“As per the plan of action, we will deploy about one hundred forest staff, comprising mostly forest watchers and elephant trackers, from Kuppam, Palamaner, Chittoor West and East division in Nagari plains to divert the bachelor’s group towards Karveti Nagaram range, and from there the trio would be guided to cross into the Seshachalam hills, a few kilometers away,” Mr Narentheran said.

The DFO clarified that though the three elephants had come from Tamil Nadu, it was not possible to drive them back into their habitat as they have strayed far away from there. The official said that the Seshachalam ranges, home to about 45 elephants at present, are capable of sheltering even one hundred elephants with its verdant forests.

As a precautionary measure, the forest department would also make ready tranquillisers for use in case of emergencies. Much to the relief of the forest officials, one of the three elephants that got separated from the group a few days ago has once again joined it, thus lessening the burden on officials and averting further trouble.

The three-member group from Tamil Nadu forests had crossed into Chittoor district in early January and since then have been creating panic among villagers by damaging crops and critically injuring two farmers near Puttur last week. On Saturday morning, two elephants of the group resorted to fighting in the fields close to the Chennai NH passing through Puttur, leaving the villagers unnerved.

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