Lone elephant plays hide and seek with forest staff

Officials intensify tracking efforts to prevent it from coming close to habitations

After killing an elderly farmer and injuring a woman near Chittoor on Wednesday, the lone elephant has gone elusive, forcing the forest personnel to intensify tracking the animal to prevent it from moving close to fields and human habitations.

District Forest Officer (Chittoor East-Wildlife) G.G. Narentheran said that after attacking the two persons, the elephant moved towards the thin forest cover behind district Collectorate located on the Chittoor-Vellore highway. “After entering the poorly wooded terrain, the animal had become hard to pin down. As its movements have become vague, our personnel are constantly trying to track the elephant, expecting its return to the eastern side again,” he said.

The elephant is one of a three-member “bachelors’ group”, which entered Chittoor district from Tamil Nadu forests in January. The group roamed the fields and hilly terrain in the Nagari plains between Narayanavanam and Karveti Nagaram for four months. The herd killed a night watchman, and injured four villages in Puttur and Karveti Nagaram ranges. One of the trio turned a loner in early March, and was reportedly electrocuted in sugarcane field near Narayanavanam on May 22.

The two other jumbos also got separated and turned into loners. One of them entered the Chittoor west division May 18 night, but the other created a flutter near Chittoor, attacking two persons on Wednesday.

The officials expressed confidence that the last of the bachelors’ group would be driven into the West division, which hosts the Koundinya sanctuary with over 50 elephants, including resident and migrant population of jumbos.

Mr. Narentheran said that an immediate relief of ₹1 lakh was given to the family members of the Vajravelu, who was killed by the elephant. “We will represent with the government for extending ₹5 lakh ex gratia to the victim’s family,” he said.

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