Lockdown delays exercise resulting in increased human-elephant confrontation; six dead in elephant attacks since January

The Forestry Department managed to capture two tuskers on Thursday, known to have caused problems in parts of the Sakleshpur and Alur taluks. The recent deaths of people in elephant attacks had forced the department to capture the tusks, dubbed Gunda and Mountain. As many as six people have died in elephant attacks since January.

The department began the operation early Thursday. Observers and other field personnel spotted Mountain and managed to capture him after tranquilizing him. In the evening, Gunda was also captured. The vets, who were part of the on-site team, fired tranquilizers, as a result of which the animal was captured using tame elephants.

Forestry officers decided to release Gunda in MM Hills after strapping a radio collar around his neck and took Mountain to Cauvery Nisarga Dhama in Kodagu.

There had been a delay in capturing tusks due to the COVID-19 lockdown, leading to an increase in human-elephant conflict. The sixth death this year is that of KS Biddaiah, 77, who was trampled a few feet from his home in Kuniganahalli.

Officials from the Hassan Forest Department submitted a detailed profile of the animals and obtained permission to capture them from the PCCF (Wildlife) on April 27.

Hassan KN Basavaraj’s deputy forest conservator said the capture operation required the involvement of 120 to 150 people. Given their safety, the ministry had suggested postponing the operation.

Forestry Department staff monitor the movement of herds using radio collars and inform local people of the presence of tusks so that they can be cautious. However, the separate tusks of the herds caused problems.