Tracking the live movement of wild elephants is key to mitigate human casualties in the mineral rich northern Chhattisgarh, which has been the pitch of intense human-wild elephant conflict for over three decades.
However, the radio satellite collars being attached to the pachyderms are not ‘hooking’ long enough to keep the track effective.
“Out of five radio collars attached to wild elephants in Surguja division, three fell off due to several reasons and currently only two radio collars are attached to the elephants,” Arvind PM, Deputy Director Elephant Reserve informed.
Notably, the elephant reserve consists of three wildlife sanctuaries- Badalkhol in Jashpur district Semarsot in Surguja and Tamor Pingla in Surajpur district.
Not a single nut-bolt in the radio collars had slipped or malfunctioned, it means they were removed by the elephant forcibly, Arvind reasoned while adding that elephant is a very intelligent animal and can remove it.
According to official information in past six years 309 people have been killed by wild elephants in northern Chhattisgarh.
During the BJP regime state forest department had inked Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Wild Life Institute of India (WII) -the autonomous institute of Union Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change- for attaching satellite radio collars to the wild elephants in Chhattisgarh.
As a pilot project fresh radio collars will be attached to 12 wild elephants, Principal Chief Conservator of Forest (PCCF) Rakesh Chaturvedi said.
“We will contact the team of Wild Life Institute of India (WII) and ask them to find some permanent solution for the same,” the PCCF said while taking to The Pioneer.
Meanwhile, Chief Conservator of Forest (CCF) KK Bisen, who has extensively worked with wild elephants in Surguja region, claims that it is quite normal that collars get detached from the animal.
“We can always re-attach the collar to the animal,” he said.
He informed that the collars are imported from Australia and cost of one collar is Rs 3 lakh.
Elephant expert Amalendu Mishra, who has been seeing the growth of wild elephants since the first attempt to capture them was done way back in 1993 in Surguja, said already the locations of wild elephant are known on daily basis.
“There is adequate ground staff with forest department, along with volunteers on ground, who keep day-in-day-out track of the wild elephants, so just knowing the live locations of wild elephant is not going to bring about much change,” he said while adding, how long the collar remains on wild elephant is also a question.