With the Karnataka government refusing to provide trained adult cow elephants to Pilibhit Tiger Reserve (PTR), the PTR officials have now decided to transport six elephants, aged between six and 11 years, and to foster them to adapt to the local forest and environmental conditions.
The elephants are needed to track and monitor stray tigers.
Matured cow elephants are said to be better at the task than bulls.
According to PTR officials, the core area can provide safe habitat to a maximum of 26 to 28 tigers. Spread across 603 square kilometres, the core forest area of PTR is inadequate to accommodate the present population of 57 resident and eight transit tigers.
Naveen Khandelwal, the divisional forest officer (DFO) of PTR, said that this is the prime reason why tigers stray out of the forests.
“As per an assessment, over 20 big cats can be categorised as stray tigers which prefer to make the sugarcane fields adjacent to the periphery of PTR, their home. Such fields are the first choice of mother big cats with cubs,” he added.
The best way by forest teams to spot stray tigers and monitor their movement is from atop the jumbos even in the inner parts of the cane fields. At present, PTR is dependent upon the Dudhwa Tiger Reserve (DTR) for jumbos to tackle the man-tiger conflict situations, he added.
Earlier, a PTR team had selected six elephants, including three cows at Rampura elephant camp, Nagarhole tiger and Shimoga elephant camp in Karnataka.
But after the talks over adult cow elephants failed, with Karnataka turning down the request on the grounds that they do not have elephants to spare.