Radio-collared wild elephant captured from Mananthavady in Kerala dies at Bandipur in Karnataka


The radio-collared elephant which triggered panic in the Mananthavady area in Wayanad, Kerala, on February 2, 2024.

The radio-collared elephant which triggered panic in the Mananthavady area in Wayanad, Kerala, on February 2, 2024.
| Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

Thanneer Komban, the radio-collared wild elephant that was captured from Mananthavady in Wayanad district of Kerala on February 2 (Friday) night, died at the Ramapura elephant camp in the Bandipur tiger reserve in Karnataka on February 3 (Saturday) morning.

The animal was captured after tranquillising it. It was then relocated to the Bandipur forest around 10.30 p.m. on Friday in a wildlife ambulance.

Kerala Forest Minister A.K. Saseendran told the media that the incident was “shocking.” An expert committee would be constituted to probe the issue, he said.

A necropsy of the animal would be performed jointly by veterinary teams from Kerala and Karnataka, said Mr. Saseendran.

There were no failures on the part of the wildlife managers in the operation to capture the jumbo and the alleged delay in issuing the order to capture the elephant was due to the time-consuming procedures, the Minister added.

Failures alleged

However, a wildlife expert has alleged that there was failure on the part of the officials in handling the situation.

Though Wayanad Sub-collector Vishal Sagar Bharath imposed Section 144 of the Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC) in the area for the smooth operation around 10 a.m. on Friday, officials failed to control the mob though the operation was started only around 5.30 p.m., the expert said.

Forest officials shot the first tranquilliser dart at 5.35 p.m., and the second dart at 6.18 p.m. even as a huge mob had gathered in the area, the expert said.

Typically, such operations should not be carried out in the late evening, the expert said. As the operation started late in the evening, it is suspected that the forest officials could not cool the elephant by spraying water on it. When the animal was shifted to the vehicle around 10:30 p.m. with the assistance of three ‘Kumki’ (trained) elephants, it was too weak, the expert added.

The Chief Wildlife Warden issued the order around 2 p.m. to capture the animal, if attempts to driver it back to the forests failed. However, the officials failed to give the animal a chance to move back to the forests after dispersing the mob, the expert said.

The elephant was reportedly radio-collared after being tranquillised on January 16 in Hassan district of Karnataka.

The animal received its name ‘Thanneer Komban’ after it used to destroy water pipes installed at coffee plantations in Hassan to quench its thirst.

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