With the alpha male elephant Vinayagan translocated from Thadagam valley on December 18, the next big tusker Chinna Thambi is less frequenting the villages, according to officials with the Forest Department.

According to them, the translocation of the leader male elephant could have created a deterrent in Chinna Thambi, which earlier used to raid crops and damage houses.

However, the department and farming community in Thadagam valley are apprehensive about an all-male herd which is spotted at several places in villages.

The herd comprising seven male elephants of various age groups was caught in a surveillance camera when it entered a human habitation at Thoppampatti, near Thudiyalur in the early hours of Saturday.

According to anti-poaching watchers (APWs) of the department, who frequently monitor and drive out wild elephants from villages, five of the seven tuskers that came to Thoppampatti have been roaming together for a very long time.

The five-member herd was earlier spotted while crossing a main road at Periyanaickenpalayam.

“Two big males, the tusker seen walking in the front with a mark showing the onset of musth and another one seen at the end, are new to the herd. All the seven tuskers are now seen together. The herd was spotted near the CRPF campus at Kurudampalayam on Saturday night. When chased, it moved to a place near Classic Village at Pannimadai,” said an experienced APW on conditions anonymity.

Ajay Desai, a consultant for the World Wildlife Fund and member of Asian elephants specialist group of International Union for Conservation of Nature, said that male elephants forming herd is a common pattern.

“Male elephants, which move away from mother at the age of eight or later often join other males for learning.

“They also imitate the traits shown by the leader of the herd. Given the conflict situation in Thadagam, young males might learn crop raiding techniques if the leader of the herd is into that habit,” he said.

According to Mr. Desai, the present human-elephant situation in Thadagam valley was the result of long-time neglect in addressing the issue like in many other places in the country.

“Negative conditioning methods will help to change their crop raiding pattern,” he added.

Meanwhile, P. Kandasamy of Tamil Nadu Vivasayigal Sangam (non-political) has demanded the capture and translocation of Chinna Thambi stating that the Forest Department had issued an order to the effect.

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