‘Trouble elephants’ to be under GPS surveillance

Kathmandu, January 31

The Department of National Parks and Wildlife Conservation has started fitting troublesome elephants with satellite collars.

The DNPWC has fitted two elephants at Koshi Tappu Wildlife Reserve and one elephant at Bardiya National Park with satellite collars. The elephants were going astray after separating from their herd.

According to DNPWC officials, they are also working to fit more elephants with satellite collars in the coming days. Ecologist Laxman Prasad Poudyal of DNPWC said normally elephants that were separated from their herds could be called ‘trouble’ elephants and were a potential threat to people and their settlements.  “The use of collars on elephants will help us track their movement, which will be helpful for us to study the nature of the elephants,” Poudyal said, adding, “We can also have prior knowledge about the elephants’ movement to human settlements. This can reduce human casualties and save us time to take necessary measures to prevent unwanted incidents.”

A satellite collar is a highly active GPS device. The device gives the precise location and the data of movements of a wild animal through satellite to the computer, which is monitored by technicians.

Normally elephants are perceived as peaceful animals and move on their routes all year round. But if their routes are disrupted by human settlements and other artificial construction, they get agitated and start attacking people. Encroachment upon forests is also one of major reasons for elephants entering human settlements.

Elephants in Nepal also get closer to human-occupied areas in search of grains and homemade wine. Ecologist Poudyal said, “People are also to blame for elephant raids and attacks as they lure the mammal by feeding them wine and food.”

DNPWC officials also said they had removed the tusks of two of the three elephants captured to be fitted with satellite collar.