A 35-year-old male elephant was radio-collared in Uttarakhand on Thursday for the first time in the state’s history to monitor its movements ahead of Maha Kumbh 2021, informed forest officials.
JS Suhag, chief wildlife warden of Uttarakhand forest department said the purpose of radio-collaring the pachyderm was to prevent man-animal conflict during the Maha Kumbh next year.
“The state forest department along with a team from Wildlife institute of India has successfully radio-collared a male tusker in Dassowal area of Rasiyabud range in Haridwar forest division. We will now monitor the movement of this tusker with the aim of preventing man-animal conflict during the 2021 Maha Kumbh,” said Suhag.
Earlier this month, Uttarakhand government had received permission from the Central government to radio-collar ten elephants and study their movement, as they usually stray in areas of human habitation.
The Jumbo population has increased in the state and so have man-elephant conflicts. In June, according to the elephant census conducted earlier this year, the numbers of the elephants in the state had reached 2,026. In 2012, there were 1,559 elephants, while in 2017 there were 1,839 elephants in the state.
Neeraj Sharma, divisional forest officer for Haridwar forest division, said in the past three months, ten elephants have been identified for radio-collaring after continuous monitoring.
“One such elephant was radio collared on Thursday in the presence of senior scientists from WII and veterinarians from the state forest department. The state forest department will now get hourly updates of the movement of the elephant and this will not only help us prevent man-elephant conflicts during Maha Kumbh but we will also be able to check if the elephant is moving near agricultural fields and will move it from there on time,” said Sharma.
Last September, the Rajaji Tiger Reserve landscape in the state was chosen as the pilot area for a project on man-wildlife conflict mitigation launched by the Union ministry of environment, forest and climate change (MoEFCC).
The forest officials had started their preparations for Maha Kumbh 2021 since last November, when man-animal hotspots were identified and geo-tagged. Response teams at multiple levels were formed and a geo-tagged map was prepared by the Haridwar forest division by collating information on all the conflict incidents over the past two years.