Kodagu: Kusha, the elephant, returned to Dubare forest two days ago, surprising forest officials and wildlife lovers.
The Tusker Kusha used to trouble villagers by destroying crops worth lakhs during the night in Siddapura and Dubare regions. The elephant even attacked humans and bikers several times.
Followed by pressure from villagers, the State Forest Department captured the 28-year-old tusker in the year 2016 from Chettalli near here.
The elephant was caged along with other elephants at Dubare Elephant Camp for taming. After taming, he was put to routine work in the Department for over three years. In the Dubare elephant camp, all the elephants will be sent to the nearby forest for grazing. However, in 2019, the tusker went missing from the forest searching for the companion. According to officials the elephants go with wild elephants during musth (mating) and return to camp after 3 to 4 days. But Kusha did not return to camp even after a year and found a mate in Dubare itself.
Kusha was captured and tamed again in Dubare camp. Following a hue and cry and ethical questions over Kusha being separated from his mate and the intervention of former Minister and Environmentalist Maneka Gandhi, the Forest Department released the elephant into the Moolehole Range of Bandipura Tiger Reserve (BTR), which is more than 150 km from Dubare last June.
But after one year of walking nearly 4000 km, the tusker was spotted in Dubare which is familiar to him. It took six months for him to cross Bandipura and reach Wayanad and cross the Kabini range to enter the Nagarahole National Park.
From Bandipura, he entered the Nagarahole Tiger Reserve and has taken the Thithimathi-Maldare route to reach Dubare. His movement was tracked by project scientists from the Wildlife Institute of India (WII) at Dehradun. Last December, the Wildlife Institute of India scientists alerted the Dubare Forest officers that Kusha will soon reach Dubare. Forest officials at the Dubare elephant camp told that elephants are intelligent animals and it can sense their familiar territory from far and wide.
Elephants are known to migrate across 350 to 500 sqkm annually. Interestingly, when Kusha was released to Kabini after radio-collaring, many wildlife enthusiasts were not happy with the fact that he was released in Bandipura, a territory that is unfamiliar to him. Now, Kusha has belied their expectation and has returned home.
Kushalnagara Range Forest Officer (RFO) B. Shivarama said, “Kusha is feeding and covering territories with the herd and the Department is monitoring its movement.” He said that Kusha was seen with four elephants in the forest.