Kozhikode: The increase in tiger population of Wayanad Wildlife Sanctuary would act as a check on the increase in the Asiatic elephant population which had also registered an increase in the recent past, according to wildlife experts.
Incidents of tigers targeting elephant calves are increasing in the wildlife sanctuary. As per the data, of the 12 elephant deaths registered in the sanctuary in the last ten months, five were calves killed in tiger attacks. One each was killed by tigers in the forest ranges of Tholppetti, Sulthan Bathery and Muthanga while two calves were killed in Kurichiad forest range. Four of the calves were less than one and half years while one was a sub-adult. Another elephant calf was killed in the cross-fire between two elephants who were fighting.
Noted veterinarian Dr Anil Zachariah told DC that the reason for the increasing attack on elephant calves in Wayanad may be due to the extreme drought in jungle zones this year. “It is not easy to attack a calf which is with a herd”, he said, adding that many calves infected with diseases this summer were abandoned by the herd, making them easy targets for tigers.
The elephant population of WWS was 756 as per the elephant census in 2012. The present population would be more than 1000, according to wildlife experts.
According to a rough estimate, there are 70 tigers in this sanctuary whereas the Periyar Tiger Reserve and Parambikulam Tiger Reserve have only 26 and 24 tigers respectively.
Wayanad Wildlife Warden P Dhanesh Kumar told DC that the number of elephant calves killed in tiger attacks had been increasing in the sanctuary. “The meat of the elephant calf is something tigers like. But it is rare that they get a chance to attack calves”, he added. “Every year one or two such incidents are reported but this year it went up to five”, he added. “The increasing tiger population may act as a natural factor to decrease the Asiatic elephant population which also registered an alarming increase.”