The wild elephant had been fitted with a radio collar after it trampled an Adivasi boy to death in May 2018, and has already caused two injuries in Wayanad since it arrived here.

Lack of available kumki elephants stalls capture of wild elephant in Wayanad Representational image courtesy Pixabay by CC0
news Wildlife Tuesday, January 22, 2019 - 19:38

An insufficient number of ‘kumki’ elephants, or elephants especially trained by humans to in turn help calm and train recently captured wild elephants, has left forest department officials in Kerala unable to capture a wild elephant in the Wayanad Wildlife Sanctuary.

The wild elephant, referred to as Vadakkanad Komban was spotted in Kallettu Moolakkolly forest area in Kurichyad forest range, Vadakkanad, early in the morning on December 25, 2018. That morning, it entered some agricultural fields and destroyed crops there, and displayed aggressive behaviour, which resulted in the injuries of two locals from the area.

Forest department officials require a total of four kumki elephants in order to capture and relocate the elephant. Assistant wildlife warden at the Wayanad wildlife sanctuary, Ratheeshan, told TNM that while two kumki elephants from Muthanga were ready for the operation, the other kumki elephants from Kerala and Andhra Pradesh were in musth (a reproductive phase in male elephants where they exhibit violent, unpredictable and aggressive behaviour due to a large rise in reproductive hormones).

“The kumki elephants from Karnataka are not available due to some formalities,” he continued, “We were told we would be given the two available elephants from Muthumala in Tamil Nadu after Pongal, on January 16. However, an issue cropped up in Coimbatore, for which they are required there. After the Coimbatore operation, they will come here to help in this operation to capture the Vadakkanad elephant.”

The elephant, currently being referred to as the Vadakkanad Komban or Vadakkanad Tusker had been fitted with a radio collar after it trampled an Adivasi boy to death in May 2018. Ratheeshan says the elephant is originally from Karnataka, and had entered Kerala from the Hunasur forest area. This elephant had also previously managed to escape confinement in a special natural enclosure in Muthanga back in May.

Ratheeshan adds that at the current time, forest department officials are not currently scaring or angering the elephant in any way, or making it run in any direction, but only closely monitoring its movements and location. A kraal, or cage, for its shifting upon capture has already been readied.


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