A wild elephant that has been wreaking havoc in Keralaâ€™s Palakkad district was captured on the morning of Sunday, January 22. The elephant, known as Palakkad Tusker-7 (PT-7), was usually sighted in the Dhoni forest and surrounding villages for the past two years. It was finally located by the Rapid Response Team after a search that went on for several hours.
A team led by chief veterinary surgeon Dr Arun Zachariah tranquilised the wild elephant at around 7 am on Sunday. Forest officials brought â€˜kumkiâ€™ elephants (elephants used to trap and train their wild counterparts) to guide the rogue jumbo into a truck, and it was shifted to a secured place. A special team of 82 forest officials, including Dr Zachariah and his team, had been trying to capture the elephant for several days.
Dr Arun Zachariah, while speaking to the media on Saturday, said that they did not fire the tranquiliser dart directly at the elephant, as its immediate reaction would be to run. If that happened, the possibility of the elephant falling down from the slope and hurting itself would be greater, he said.
Kerala Forest Minister AK Saseendran hailed the officials involved in the operation. "The forest officials did a commendable job in capturing the wild elephant. The animal was wreaking havoc on the people of Dhoni and neighbouring villages near forest in Palakkad," Saseendran told PTI. The minister said that PT-7 will be shifted to a cage set up near Dhoni. He added that the forest department will monitor its health and take further action regarding its rehabilitation. "It might take at least six months to tame an elephant. We have to prepare a proper diet for the animal and train it," Saseendran said.
Last July, a 60-year-old man, who went for a morning stroll with a few others, was trampled to death by PT-7 at Dhoni. Residents said that PT-7 had also been raiding their farmlands and residential areas over the past few months.