Tusker Kusha, who was radio-collared and left inside the Bandipur Tiger Reserve from his original place at Dubare Elephant Camp, has returned to its familiar territory. He has been spotted inside the Dubare Range Forest abutting the camp and is roaming around with a herd that has a couple of female elephants.
From Bandipur, 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.
In December last year, the WII scientists had alerted the Dubare Forest officers that Kusha will soon reach Dubare and now the officers have confirmed to Star of Mysore that Kusha has joined the herd and is in its familiar territory.
The 30-year-old jumbo was released at Moolehole Range of Bandipur Tiger Reserve, more than 150 kilometres from Dubare last June and after one year of walking, now it is back. It took six months for him to cross Bandipur and reach Wayanad and cross the Kabini range to enter the Nagarahole National Park.
It took another six months to reach Dubare, officials said and added that elephants are intelligent animals and it can sense their familiar territory from far and wide. Elephants are known to migrate across 350-500 sq. km. 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 Bandipur, a territory that is unfamiliar to him. Now Kusha has belied their expectation and has returned.
Dubare Range Forest Officer Shivaram told SOM this morning that at present, Kusha is feeding and covering territories with the herd and the Department was monitoring its movement.
“We have the videos of him moving along the herd and female elephants. Dubare is his familiar territory and it might even come to the Camp as it had stayed there for months and we need to be prepared,” he said. Deputy Conservator of Forests A.T. Poovaiah too confirmed that Kusha was seen with four elephants that were released from Dubare Camp.
Kusha was captured by the Kodagu Forest Department in 2018 at Chettalli along with another elephant named Luv. After taming him at Dubare Elephant Camp, he was put to routine work of the Department for over three years. However, he escaped from the camp when he was in ‘musth’ and was traced after more than one year along with a mate.
He was recaptured and brought to Dubare and was re-tamed. Following a hue and cry and ethical questions over Kusha being separated from his mate and the intervention of Maneka Gandhi, the Forest Department ordered his release after radio collaring him.