Rising human-elephant conflict: darting teams reel under sedative drug shortage

The currently-used Ketamine-Xylazine drug combination doesn’t have a strong sedative effect. A veterinary team has to dart tranquilizers at least thrice. Representative image/Manorama.

Kozhikode: With the state witnessing rapid instances of human-wildlife conflicts, the Forest veterinary teams are reeling under a shortage of quick-action sedatives, especially that of the popular Immobilon drug.

The Forest department is yet to take action on a long pending proposal to procure Immobilon drug. The department is not much interested in capturing wild animals by injecting sedatives, sources said.

The drug shortage has also hit the efforts to fix radio-collars on rogue elephants and constantly monitor their movements, besides providing proper treatment to the injured tuskers, the experts pointed out.

The currently-used Ketamine-Xylazine drug combination doesn’t have a strong sedative effect. A veterinary team has to dart tranquilizers at least thrice. And there is a huge risk of the rogue elephants attacking during intervals in between the drug shots. It took five shots to finally tranquilize the rampaging rogue elephant PT-7 at Dhoni the other day.

The experts admit that the Ketamine-Xylazine combo is the preferred one when captured wild tuskers need to be taken to awaiting vehicles with the help of Kumki elephants. The tranquilizers only make the animals become less excited while still awake. But for purposes like administering treatment and fixing collars, the Immobilon drug is more suited, they added.

The rogue elephant will collapse to the ground in a single shot of sedatives. The elephants will wake up and start to stand on their legs only after being administered antidotes. The treatment and other measures can be administered during this interval.

Dhoni restless in cage

The caged wild tusker Dhoni repeats his attempts to break the cage to be free. He hits the cage with his front and hind legs to break it and uses his trunk to remove the supporting poles of the cage. He is also engaging in pastimes, like rolling his head on the sand.

Madhavan and Manikandan, mahouts at the Top Slip Kozhikamithi elephant camp, have arrived to tame Dhoni. The duo, aged 20, were brought by the Forest Department as per the direction of the Kumki trainers, who said it is better to put Dhoni under mahouts aged 20 for better and speedy results in taming. Both mahouts yesterday familiarized themselves with Dhoni. They fed him and were near the cage throughout.

Another crop-raiding tusker in scene
Meanwhile, another wild tusker has descended on the populated areas in Dhoni. The tusker came down to the farmland at Choolipadam in Chelakkad.

Local people said that he destroyed crops, including coconut and areca nut trees. The new tusker came the day after the ferocious PT-7 was caged.

When the wild tusker PT-7 was caged, the Forest Minister A K Saseendran named him ‘Dhoni’. It is planned to train it and make it a Kumki elephant. PT-7 terrorised people of Malampuzha, Mundur, and Dhoni areas in Palakkad district for the past two years with widespread destruction of crops.

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