Tusker death: Probe reveals involvement of locals

BENGALURU:Investigation into the recent death of a tusker in Kodagu district reveals that a ‘group of locals’ were involved in the killing. Earlier too, this group had gunned down a pachyderm. Forest officials say that this group had taken law into their own hands and such killings were a sort of warning to the authorities.

Recently, a 25- to 30-year-old tusker was found dead with its body riddled with bullet wounds in Virajpete taluk. It was found in a kneeling position inside a coffee estate in Paalangala village.In fact, 2017 elephant census has revealed that out of 300 elephant population of Kodagu, nearly 60% were found in the coffee estates. With conflict escalating and many herds raiding and destroying crops and killing people, they were unhappy with the compensation package, local wildlife activists say.

Principal Chief Conservator of Forests (PCCF) (Wildlife), C Jayaram, told TNIE, “We have identified this group and are still investigating their activities. They are a tiny group where they shoot in one area and the poor animal runs to another area and if the injuries are serious, it dies in a different place. At this point of time, we do not want to reveal any names.”

ELEPHANT COLLARING

With entry of elephants in coffee estates, there has been lot of crop damage as well as loss of human lives in the past decade. To tackle the conflict situation, the forest department has formed a network to collar five females in patriarchal elephant groups in Madikeri, Virajpete and Hassan.Forest officials add, “We have a network to help people face the conflict situation where information about the movement of elephant herds are passed on to people.”

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