Where did the rogue elephant Belur Makhna disappear?

Belur Makhna. Photo: Screengrab: Manorama News.

Wayanad: For 40 days, the Rapid Response Team had a tough time trailing the rogue elephant 'Belur Makhna'. The elephant had stomped a man to death in Padamala. The tragic death stirred up intense protests. The plan of the forest department was to tranquilize the elephant and shift the animal to Muthanga elephant camp. The mission dragged on without results and after a point, nobody heard of Belur Makhna. So has it disappeared?

No, the officials say, but the concerns have been allayed for the time being; thanks to better inter-state co-ordination. The Karnataka forest department doesn't let the elephant to enter the Kerala forest region anymore. The Karnataka forest department was at the receiving end for its alleged failure in communicating to the Kerala forest department about the entry of the rogue elephant to Kerala which eventually cost a human life.

The forest department personnel pointed out that the inter-state coordination post-Belur Makhna incident has improved significantly. With the sharing of technology, the tracking mechanism of animals has also improved. Now, department personnel from Kerala and Karnataka can track the movement of the animal effectively. Inter-state communication also works well as both camps inform each other whenever any elephant crosses the border.

"Now if the animal crosses into the Kerala part of the forest we are communicated in advance and we also track the animal's movement,'' said South Wayanad DFO A Shajna. Even if the animal manages to cross the border, Karnataka forest department takes initiate to drive the animal back to Karnataka, officials said.

Following the death of a man, lack of co-ordination between states had come under flak. Belur Makhna was tracked down by the Kerala forest department personnel on January 5 and had demanded the tracking ID and password from Karnataka. While the ID was password was received four days later, the tracking was delayed as the equipments were found to be incompatible.

Kerala forest department then requested Karnataka to part with an instrument of the same frequency, so that they could track the animal faster. When the request was turned down, the experts of forest department personnel had to contact the World Wildlife Fund (WWF), an NGO in Coimbatore that provided them with the equipment. But by the time the instrument was received, the elephant had entered human habitation and killed a man.

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