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One month on, forest dept fails to locate missing elephant in U’khand

Dept has tried using chilli to smoke out the animal, roped in Chhattisgarh expert

dehradun Updated: Oct 15, 2017 20:24 IST
Prithviraj Singh
Prithviraj Singh
Hindustan Times
Uttarakhand,missing elephant,smoke out
The 50-year-old elephant, eldest among the three-member group, used to be seen at villages on the eastern flank of Dehradun forest division till a month ago. (HT Photo)

The use of chilli to smoke out the elephant that has gone missing in the Dehradun forest division for the past nearly a month has proved futile so far.

The forest officials maintained that the pachyderm was not poached, but expressed fear that it may have fallen sick after being separated from his two other group members — a juvenile and a sub-adult. “It’s unlikely that the missing tusker has been hurt by any human being that would have forced him to recede into forest cover, but illness cannot be ruled out,” said Dehradun divisional forest officer (DFO) PK Patro. He added that the missing animal is too huge to be attacked by anyone easily.

Around 50-year-old and eldest in the three-member group, the tusker used to be seen at nearby villages on the eastern flank of Dehradun forest division till a month ago. The forest department has roped in Dr Rudra, an expert on elephant behaviour from Chhattisgarh, to search the missing tusker. Dr Rudra has resorted to ‘the chilli formula’ to smoke out the missing elephant from its possible hideouts for 4-5 days, but in vain, according to sources in the Dehradun forest division.

According to the forest officials, efforts are on to find the missing tusker and force the other two elephants into the deep forest adjoining Rajaji National Park.

“Efforts by Dr Rudra to use chilli smoke for forcing the elephants to retreat into deep forest cover has its impacts. He is likely to be joined by his 3-4 associates from Chhattisgarh in the next two days, but tranquilising option for other two tuskers is still open if they remain uncontrolled for too long and keep frequenting into villages,” said Patro.

The DFO said preparations are on to trap the two pachyderms at Lachhiwala and Kaluwala forests by alluring them with heaps of food items that will be kept there. Both the elephants will be tranquilised and left inside elephant core areas of Rajaji National Park.

The two tuskers are frequently seen in the villages of Thano Range located on the eastern flank of Dehradun forest division, but their missing associate was last seen by the locals on September 21 at Kaluwala area. The two elephants were also spotted on Saturday by a forest patrolling team in the Bhopal Pani area.

The DFO said that the tuskers cannot enter into village areas as the forest patrolling teams have cordoned off the areas and fuming chilli sacs that have repelling effect on elephants.

Chilli fumes deter the tuskers away from the place and they do not return to the same place for a long time. More than 100 wet sacs of fuming red chilli have been hanged at locations where movement of the elephants is high, he said.

First Published: Oct 15, 2017 20:24 IST