Elephant experts in Gadchiroli today, collaring option open | Nagpur News – Times of

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Nagpur: After chief minister Uddhav Thackeray took serious cognizance of elephants entering Gadchiroli, a team of experts will visit the tribal district along with principal chief conservator of forests (wildlife) Sunil Limaye on Monday.
A herd of 18-22 elephants is on the move in Gadchiroli’s south Murumgaon and south Dhanora forest ranges. Elephants have re-entered the region after 300 years. The herd is near Munjalgondi lake in south Dhanora, where there is good fodder in the form of bamboo and grass. According to forest officials, this herd had started in 2014 in Odisha.
Limaye said, “We have sought help from the Stripes And Green Earth (SAGE) Foundation in West Bengal, working on elephant conservation. One purpose of the visit is to identify suitable areas where elephants can stay undisturbed and people are also not harmed. Capacity-building of the staff is also on the agenda.”
SAGE is working in the Sanjay-Dubri Tiger Reserve and now in Kotma range of Annupur on human-animal conflict, and is training the field staff on identification, body language, drive management etc.
“We have also sought help from Gadchiroli police superintendent Ankit Goyal and district collector Sanjay Meena for security and compensation, if some houses are damaged. Being paddy harvesting season, the crop is ripe and we are in the process of paying compensation for crop damage by elephants,” said Limaye.
The PCCF added, “I’ve also invited NGO Wildlife SOS that had radio-collared elephants in Chhattisgarh as part of the man-animal conflict mitigation. One of the elephants in the herd was collared earlier and the collar has fallen now. We have kept the option to collar the elephant open and have invited the NGO, if it wishes to take up such an operation.”
A day before, urban development minister Eknath Shinde had identified Chaprala wildlife sanctuary as an alternative site for elephants. However, Gadchiroli conservator of forests (CF) Kishore Mankar said, “Chaprala is a teak forest and not suitable for elephants.”
Meanwhile, a three-member team from SAGE Foundation led by Sagnik Sengupta arrived in the city and will leave for Gadchiroli with Limaye on Monday. Another elephant expert Anand Shinde from Mumbai, who had earlier handled captive elephants in Tadoba and Kamlapur in Gadchiroli, is already camping in Gadchiroli.
During discussions with Limaye, NGO SAGE is also likely to come up with a suggestion to install early warning devices, either at the village or forest entry points of the elephants. The NGO had earlier implemented the GSM-based prototype in Sanjay-Dubri in Chhattisgarh. The technique works on solar energy and sends alerts to mobile phones, also generating hooter sounds wherever fixed.
Sengupta said, “Paddy is cultivated in Gadchiroli in a big way. The crop is ripe and it is one of the favourite foods of elephants. The herd may stay till the end of winter and onset of summer, and may try to migrate again towards Mahanadi in Chhattisgarh. The herd may come back next year with more numbers. It may stay for long if alternative fodder and water is available, and provided it is not disturbed.”

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