When a young elephant wandered into Gudalur, along with two friends, he quickly got used to the humans living in the vicinity. However, when he was left alone by his company, the elephant found himself lost, looking through a garbage dump, in an unfamiliar area.
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Villagers attempted to chase the elephant to Needle Rock forest, but forest officials realised that the animal was not native to that area, and proceeded to devise a plan to return the elephant to its home.
For the first time, officials used information stored in the Centralised Elephant Monitoring System, usually used to track elephants that wander close to human civilisation, to determine where he had come from.
After research revealed that the elephant belonged to the Visalakshi estate region of the forest, officials went to work to carry out an operation unlike any other. According to a report by The Hindu, Google Maps was used to identify habitations between Gudalur and Visalakshi, and members of the Anti-poaching Watchers and Anti-depredation Squad warned residents in those areas to stay indoors post midnight.
Three vehicles followed the animal, who was coaxed by torch lights, infrared cameras and the voices of forest officials, guiding him back home. Officials are still monitoring the movement of the elephant, though the animal seems to be happy in its habitat.
This operation serves as a milestone, reminding others that violence and noise need not be the way in which wild animals are chased from civilisation.
Using an ingenious combination of technology, and gentle guidance, an elephant, was returned safely to its home, without any mishaps. This operation was a model for how to deal with similar situations in the future, and brings with it the renewed possibility of peaceful human-animal interaction.
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