Wild elephant ‘Shankar’ captured

Shankar, a wild elephant alleged to have been responsible for the deaths of three persons in accidental confrontations in the Gudalur forest division last year, was finally tranquillised and secured with ropes in Cherambadi in Pandalur by the forest department on Friday.

The around 20-year-old elephant had been evading efforts to capture it since February 4, when it re-entered Tamil Nadu from Kerala to where it had fled in December last. Forest department officials said that four kumki elephants – Kalim, Sujay, Vijay and Srinivasan were brought to the location from the Theppakadu elephant camp from the Mudumalai Tiger Reserve (MTR) to assist in the capture of Shankar.

On Friday, a team comprising forest veterinary officer, Sathyamangalam Tiger Reserve, K. Ashokan, as well as E. Vijayaraghavan and Rajesh Kumar successfully darted the elephant twice with strong doses of tranquillisers, before using the kumkis to successfully restrain the animal with ropes.

As the elephant was being protected by a herd of other elephants, some of the kumkis were being used to keep the herd away from Shankar, while veterinary teams were administering tranquilliser whenever necessary to keep the animal restrained.

Forest department teams are mobilising heavy machinery to build a temporary road to bring a truck to where the elephant can be safely boarded. Shankar is to be brought to the Theppakadu camp where he will be put inside a ‘krall’ (elephant shelter) and trained to become a captive elephant, officials said.

Incidentally, Srinivasan, one of the kumkis used to capture Shankar, used to be one of the elephants that closely associated with the jumbo during its time in the wild before it was captured by the forest department in 2016. Srinivasan was brought to Cherambadi specifically to coax Shankar away from the herd to which he had attached himself to in recent days.

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