Radio-Collar Debut For Odisha Elephants: Foresters ‘Hunt’ For Ramu

Bhubaneswar: For the first time in Odisha, the Forest Department has chosen an elephant in conflict to be radio-collared for tracking purposes.

The animal named Ramu is a 30-year-old male elephant living in Bharatpur reserve forest under Chandaka Wildlife Sanctuary.

According to Forest officials, Ramu is a herd leader and its radio-collaring would help to track elephants to minimise conflict as well as provide data on the group’s movement and behaviour.

Officials said Ramu has been in conflict for the past few years. It had strayed into Pipili and other parts of Khurda division and even claimed lives. Standing at about eight feet and a half, its height and peak growth are considered perfect for radio collaring.

As part of the plan, teams have fanned across Bharatpur reserve forest to track the elusive Ramu to tranquilise the elephant and then radio-collar him.

Ramu was sighted on Wednesday, but it was 5.30 pm by then and darting the jumbo during late afternoon was not a good idea.

On Thursday, the teams made three attempts but in vain. Now officials are hopeful that Friday could be their lucky day, but it all depends on a good time and place.

The project to put radio-collars in Odisha was taken up by the Asian Nature Conservation Foundation (ANCF) and Indian Institute of Science, Bengaluru two years ago, but the pandemic affected its launch. Now, the State Wildlife Wing and ANCF teams are on ground to take it forward.

Radio-collaring of elephants in conflict has been tested in Assam, Chhattisgarh, West Bengal, Karnataka and Uttarakhand. It has been carried out in Nepal and Bhutan too, but Odisha is attempting it for the first time.

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