Temple elephant develops intestinal problems

Medical care:Vellayammal, elephant of the Big Temple under treatment in Thanjavur. — Photo: M. Srinath

THANJAVUR: Vellayammal, elephant of the Big Temple here developed some intestinal problems due to excessive consumption of sand. Following complaint lodged by officials of Palace Devasthanam, P.N. Panicker, veterinary doctor from Thrissur and B. Saravanan, veterinary surgeon, treated the elephant on Wednesday. According to Panicker, the pachyderm got some obstruction in the intestine due to arrest of food materials caused by consumption of excessive sand. Intravenal fluids, anti-biotics have been given.

The animal is expected to recover within two days, Dr. Panciker said.

From THE HINDU

Elephant-proof trench work along NMR stopped

Wildlife enthusiasts fear fragmentation of elephant corridor

Alternative measures to combat elephant intrusion suggested

Coimbatore: The Southern Railway authorities have called off their efforts to dig an elephant-proof trench along the Nilgiris Mountain Railway (NMR) from Kallar.

Following the killing of railway line maintenance staff recently and incidents of wild elephant herd chasing line maintenance personnel on two or three occasions, the authorities commenced the trench digging work.

This drew objection from wildlife enthusiasts stating that elephant-proof trenches would result in the fragmentation of the elephant corridor, preventing migration or movement of elephants from Coimbatore towards Sathyamangalam, Karnataka and other parts of Nilgiris Biosphere Reserve.

They pointed out that the fragmentation of the corridor and obstructions to the elephants’ movement would lead to their straying into human habitations.

The Conservator of Forests, Coimbatore Circle , R. Kannan and District Forest Officer, I. Anwardeen had a meeting with officials from Southern Railway.

It is learnt that at the meeting, alternative measures to combat the elephant intrusion were suggested.

It was also suggested that five watch towers could be erected along the NMR line to monitor the movement of herds, besides utilising the services of tribals to help the railway line staff in their maintenance work.

Southern Railway recently stopped the trench work and closed the trenches dug up in the first few days.

From THE HINDU

Elephant census concludes

Tirupur: The Department of Forest officials completed the elephant census in Udumalpet and Amaravathi territorial forest ranges falling under the Anamalai Tiger Reserve on Monday late evening.

Conservator of Forests H. Basvaraju told The Hindu on Tuesday that block count and line transact dung count methods were adopted to enumerate the elephants living over an expanse of 436.27 sq km in Udumalpet and Amaravathi forest ranges of the Reserve. The total area of Anamalai Tiger Reserve including Ulanthi, Pollachi, Valparai and Manombolly ranges falling in Coimbatore district, is 958 sq km.

“Simultaneously, the census was carried out in the ranges falling in Coimbatore district too,” Mr. Basvaraju said.

During the data collection, pachyderms in various age groups, members of each sex and tuskers in adult and sub-adult categories were separately enumerated.

“The final figures will be released after compilation and collation of the data obtained. It may take a month to finish the analysis of the data collected,” Mr. Basvaraju said.

Rise in population

Official sources said that there was a significant rise in the pachyderm population estimated in the Anamalai Tiger Reserve during the last few years.

“While 598 elephants are found in Anamalai Tiger Reserve area during 2007 census, it went up to 750 in 2008 census,” sources added.

R. Vimal Kumar From THE HINDU

Elephant census in Erode district

A three-day elephant census is underway in the forest areas of the district with forest department personnel and more than 100 student volunteers taking part in the exercise.

The census, which will end Monday evening, is being undertaken in the Sathyamangalam, Hassanure, Thalawady, Bhavanisagar, Kadambur, Guthiyalathur, Anthiyur, Burgur forest areas.

In 2008, there were 800 elephants in the district and it increased to 860 in 2009 census. Forest officials expected a further increase to around 900.

From Hindustan Times

Vigil stepped up at Mudumalai Tiger Reserve

Patrolling has been intensified in dry areas; situation to be reviewed end of the month

Udhagamandalam: Owing to the dry conditions prevailing in the Mudumalai Tiger Reserve (MTR) and its surroundings the Disaster Management Centre at Mudumalai has been placed in a state of high alert, said the Field Director, MTR, Rajiv K. Srivastava while speaking to The Hindu here on Monday.

Not to be disturbed: Elephants crossing the road at the Mudumalai Tiger Reserve near Udhagamandalam.

Precaution

Though the situation is as of now not alarming adequate precautionary measures have been taken.

While about half the 326 sq. mts. reserve has become dry, the remaining areas are still green thanks to the rain received late last year.

While the storage in the Game Hut and Ombetta reservoirs is comfortable about 70 percent of the water holes had enough water to last for about 15 days.

About 20 more water holes have been created. They will be filled with the help of tankers.

Stating that the reserve will remain closed between February 19 and 25 for the tiger census, he said that the situation will be reviewed towards the end of the month. Though bush fires have so far not occurred in any part of the reserve patrolling has been intensified in the dry areas.

Officials of Karnataka, Kerala and Tamil Nadu will meet shortly to take stock of the situation.

Migration

Pointing out that migration of wild animals particularly elephants towards Mudumalai is showing signs of increasing, he said that steps have been taken to caution people passing through the reserve. On no account should the privacy of the animals be disturbed.

Stating that arrangements are being made to celebrate ‘Tiger Day’ and ‘Elephant Day’ at the reserve, he said that among the main participants would be the students of the Government Deaf School and members of the orphanage here. They will highlight the need to protect the ‘mute population’.

Adverting to the Mariamman temple car festival scheduled to be held at Bokkapuram, near Mudumalai, next week, Mr. Srivastava said that since a large number of devotees are expected to flock to the temple a separate strategy will be evolved to prevent accidental fires.

From THE HINDU

Tamilnadu: Wild elephant population in State witnesses steady growth

Elephant Task Force to be formed on the lines of Tiger Task Force

CHENNAI: There is a steady growth in population of wild elephants in the State. This was revealed at a recent meeting of the steering committee of Project Elephant of the Ministry of Environment and Forests, in New Delhi.

The population of wild elephants in Tamil Nadu was 2,307 in 1993, which touched 2,971 in 1997 and 3,052 in 2002.

On the raise: Herd of wild elephants seen at Hanumanthapuram village near Uthanapalli in Krishnagiri district last December.

Two years ago, the population was estimated to be 3,867. In Kerala and Karnataka their population is on the decline. Block and dung counting methods were adopted to arrive at the numbers, said a source in the Ministry.

Two important decisions were taken at the meeting – form an Elephant Task Force on the lines of Tiger Task Force; set up a rescue and rehabilitation centre for straying elephants, similar to the one functioning near the Vandalur zoo for tigers and lions rescued from circuses.

The committee expressed concern over the upkeep and maintenance of elephants in captivity. The Ministry had issued guidelines for care and management of elephants in captivity nearly seven years ago. It reiterated that State governments should conduct a survey and report the exact number of captive elephants in temples and other establishments. States should ensure that no illegal acquisition of pachyderms could be made.

Another complaint was on elephants being employed for begging in urban areas. In an attempt to end to this, the Maharashtra government had issued orders banning the entry of elephants within the corporation limits.

The Union Ministry requested other States to issue similar orders.

The Ministry requested State Governments not to issue any fresh ownership certificate for calves of captive elephants without DNA testing to prevent poaching.

Suggestions made

S. Vincent, Member, steering committee, Project Elephant, from Tamil Nadu, who attended the meeting, said he made a few suggestions to the Ministry, including construction of underpasses/flyovers to facilitate free movement of pachyderms across railway track/national highways; erecting bio-fences using chilly powder and other natural products to keep elephants away instead of electric fencing; identifying high risk zones of crop damage and man-animal conflict using GPRS facility; forming a conflict management committee with local communities, NGOs and volunteers; and streamlining the procedure for paying compensation to farmers for winning over local support.

P. Oppili From THE HINDU

WWF-India strengthens patrolling of Assam’s wilderness during winter

Health camps in Manas NP and Pobitora WLS for frontline forest staff & patrol elephants

A haven for wildlife
Assam state is home to diverse habitats that harbor a rich variety of wildlife, but the same urgently need enhanced protection. The conservation issues here are being addressed by WWF-India through landscapes approach under the North Bank Landscape (NBL) and Kaziranga-Karbi Anglong Landscape (KKL) programmes, in partnership with the Forest Department, Government of Assam and various NGOs.

It is crucial that forest staff & patrol elephants have regular health check ups. © Amit Sharma/WWF-India

Within the NBL lies Manas National Park, a UNESCO Natural World Heritage site, while Pobitora Wildlife Sanctuary is one of the important rhino bearing Protected Areas of Assam. Manas National Park is located on the international border with Bhutan, along the foothills of the Himalayas. Pobitora Wildlife Sanctuary on the other hand, lies about 50 km to the east of Guwahati.

Reasons to be fit
According to Amit Sharma, Coordinator, Rhino Conservation, WWF-India, “One of the many health hazards the forest staff and patrol elephants working to protect forest areas face, in this landscape, is that of extreme weather. It is crucial that the forest staff and patrol elephants have their health check ups in the post monsoon period as there is a high incidence of seasonal diseases like malaria, diarrhea.” He adds “Both the forest staff as well as their patrol elephants need to be fit to protect the wilderness in winter.” Keeping this in view, three health camps- one each for forest staff and elephants working under Basbari Range were organized by WWF-India in Manas National Park on 13th December, 2009 and one for the frontline field staff of Pobitora Wildlife Sanctuary on 17th January, 2010.

The Manas health camps were organized jointly by the NBL team of WWF-India, ATREE (UNESCO-WHS program) and Assam Forest Department in collaboration with the Dept. of Health and Family Welfare, Barpeta district, Indian Medical Association (IMA), Barpeta Road, College of Veterinary Sciences (CVSc), Khanapara and Blue Cross Society, Guwahati.

An elephant being treated at the Manas health camp. © Amit Sharma/ WWF-India

According to Debo Kumar Dutta, Senior Project Officer, NBL, “The doctors also went to the interior camps of the range to ensure maximum coverage. The needy were provided with appropriate medicines along with advice for care and precautions.” He said “The doctors talked about taking greater precautions on an emergency basis as the high Annual Parasite Levels detected may lead to an outbreak of malaria in an epidemic form in the area. The frontline staffs were advised to take precautions to prevent malaria. The patrol elephants were administered with drugs whereever required. Minerals and food supplements were provided to the mahouts to be administered by them as advised by the doctors.” “Plans are in place to cover the staff and patrol elephants of the remaining two ranges of Manas National Park,” he adds.

The Pobitora health camp was conducted under the supervision of Dr. Tonmoy Das and was led by Dr. Ramananda Das with the assistance of 4 experienced doctors and 10 paramedical staff from the hospital. About 100 people attended the camp. In addition to general health check-ups, tests were conducted to detect sugar level and malaria; ECG was also done on some patients. Free medical treatment was provided to those with critical illness. It was organised with support of International Hospitals, Guwahati in association with the Assam Forest Department and Pobitora Conservation Society.

These health camps will go a long way in securing the lives of Assam’s wildlife and their protectors – the forest staff.

From WWF