Forest dept struggles to track killer elephant; calls off mission

Forest officials are seen camping in the area as part of mission Belur Makhna. Photo: Manorama

Mananthavady: Belur Makhna, the killer elephant which trampled Wayanad man Ajeesh to death has been playing hide and seek before the forest officials. As the elephant has moved to the Mannundi region, close to Karnataka border,  signals from its radio collar are not currently receiving, said an official. After experiencing issues, the task force has called off the mission to tranquilize the elephant for the day. It is learnt that the mission will resume on Monday.

But the decision resulted in a protest as the angry people blocked the task force from leaving the place without capturing the elephant. A huge number of people are seen blocking the forest officials.

Amid this, Ajeesh's last rites were performed in Mananthavady. The diocese of Mananthavady has announced a financial aid of Rs 10 lakh to Ajeesh's family.

Belur Magna, the notorious wild elephant which trampled Ajeesh (42), will be darted today, said Kerala Forest Minister AK Saseendran. Photo: Screengrab/ CCTV.

The elephant on Saturday trampled Ajeesh (42), a local tractor driver at Chaligadda to death. Ajeesh lost his life when the animal breached the compound wall of a residence where he had sought refuge.

Photo: Special arrangement.

A Rapid Response Team (RRT) from Wayanad, with a record of dealing with rogue elephants, has been deployed, accompanied by veterinarians, darting experts, and tracking staff for the capture mission. But, according to reports, the force is yet to identify the right location of the animal due to delayed signals from the animal's radio collar. The team is thus depending on ground trackers from the tribal community to locate the elephant.

Once the elephant's position is assured, a secondary team will evaluate the feasibility of tranquilization and the potential for relocation using Kumki elephants to an animal ambulance, said an official from RRT. Four Kumkis from Muthanga - Vikram, Bharat, Surya, and Konni Surendran - are on standby, ready to assist.

Belur Makana roaming through inhabited areas at Mananthavady. Photo: Screengrab/ Manorama News.

The operation is spearheaded by South Wayanad DFO A Shajna and North Wayanad DFO Martin Lowell. A significant obstacle the team faces is the absence of a suitable road to transport the animal after tranquilization. 

Recent reports indicate that Belur Makhna, which had briefly returned to the forest, is once again approaching human settlements. The latest location was the tribal settlement of Cheloor, Mannundi near Kattikkulam. The trackers of the forest department along with an aerial surveillance team are crisscrossing the area. 

Notably, the Karnataka Forest Department has stated it does not intend to capture the elephant if it crosses into its jurisdiction. Principal Chief Conservator of Forests Subash Mangadey expressed that they would not use tranquillizer darts on the animal, but extended all support to the Kerala Forest Department.

Forest officials with Kumki elephants at Mananthavay. Photo: Screengrab/Manorama News.

Meanwhile, the last rites of Ajeesh will be held on Sunday evening at the St Alphonsa Church Padamala near Kattikulam. His dead body was brought home late at night on Saturday after post-mortem.  

"The elephant will be captured by darting and it shall be relocated to Muthanga elephant camp where the animal will be monitored for any health concerns", said Kerala Forest Minister AK Saseendran. A decision will be taken later on whether the elephant should be reintroduced into the forest or trained as a 'Kumki ' after analysing its health conditions, Saseendran added. 

The comments posted here/below/in the given space are not on behalf of Onmanorama. The person posting the comment will be in sole ownership of its responsibility. According to the central government's IT rules, obscene or offensive statement made against a person, religion, community or nation is a punishable offense, and legal action would be taken against people who indulge in such activities.