Tracing Arikomban's trail difficult with intermittent radio-collar signals

Arikomban. Photo: Screengrab/Twitter/Supriya Sahu

Thiruvananthapuram: The Forest Department is finding it difficult to trace the trail of translocated wild elephant Arikomban as signals from its radio collar are lost intermittently.

The elephant was untraceable for the most part during the last two days, leading to speculation that it was again on the move or likely moved deep inside the forest.

The last signal was received at 9 am on Thursday and as per it the rice-loving tusker is still in the vicinity of the Kodayar Dam, about 200 to 300 metre away from the reservoir, Forest officials said. The officials are wary of the pachyderm ambling across the Kerala border, just 15 km away.

Kodayar Dam is in Kanyakumari district of Tamil Nadu.

The elephant has stayed put around the Kodayar Dam and has not strayed further as it has some difficulty with walking after being tranquilized multiple times, said Tamil Nadu Forest Department officials.

The Department personnel regularly keep track of the elephant in their bid to prevent it from straying into human habitats.

The possibility of Arikomban entering the Kerala side, either to Agasthyavanam or Neyyar forest reserve areas, cannot be ruled out.

The signals from the elephant’s radio collars are received at the Periyar Tiger Reserve in Kerala's Idukki district and handed over to the officials of the State Forest Department. The latter then provide the same to the District Forest Officer (DFO), Kanyakumari.

The Forest Department officials of both Kerala and Tamil Nadu states are cautious and taking all efforts to prevent the issue from becoming a matter of dispute between the neighbours.

The 35-year-old wild elephant was captured twice in just over a month and shot with multiple tranquilizer darts, all in the space of just 37 days. It was first captured from its natural habitat Chinnakanal in the Idukki district of Kerala on April 29 and moved to Periyar Tiger Reserve. However, the animal strayed into Cumbum Town in Tamil Nadu, forcing the Forest Department officials there to capture it again and relocated deep inside the Kalakkad Mundanthurai Tiger Reserve, over 300 km away from its original habitat.

The tusker has suffered a deep cut in its trunk and experts have raised concern over its health following the multiple translocation operations.

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