Rivaldo, a 40-year-old elephant, was being shepherded towards Theppakadu by officials
Rivaldo, a 40-year-old elephant who was being coaxed to enter the Theppakadu Elephant Camp by Forest Department officials over the last three days, made his escape back into the forest on Thursday evening.
The elephant was being shepherded by Forest Department officials towards Theppakadu from Tuesday. The animal was being led towards the camp with a trail of his favourite food — fruits and sugar cane.
L.C.S. Srikanth, Deputy Director of the Mudumalai Tiger Reserve (MTR), said the elephant’s progress towards the camp was slow but steady till Thursday evening, and the animal had almost reached Masinagudi.
There were doubts about whether Rivaldo would enter the MTR core area, where the elephant camp is located, as he had not been known to prominently use the habitat in the past.
This was confirmed when the elephant, who was cooling off in a river with officials keeping watch nearby, suddenly made off in the opposite direction and escaped into a patch of forest.
Despite efforts to track the elephant, Rivaldo managed to escape on Thursday evening, officials confirmed.
K.K. Kaushal, Field Director at MTR, said such challenges were expected. “We are dealing with the largest land animal in the world. So, there were always going to be certain challenges that cropped up. Moreover, this method of not using force to walk the animal into captivity is being tested for the first time, which adds another variable to the operation,” Mr. Kaushal said.
Forest Department officials have started searching the surrounding areas in a bid to track down Rivaldo and lure him back on the path towards Theppakadu. However, other methods are also being considered to take the elephant into captivity, officials said.
Meanwhile, the officials are also monitoring another wild elephant, Shankar, who escaped capture by crossing over into neighbouring Kerala after being involved in the death of three persons in the Gudalur forest division last December.
The elephant is said to have entered Tamil Nadu again.
Two kumkis from MTR were being brought to the division and would be used in an attempt to capture the elephant and transport it to Theppakadu, officials said.