Jumbo research

Published: Saturday 15 March 2003

Elephants are tranquilised and (Credit: Nitin Sethi / CSE)A team of experts from the Asian Elephant Research Centre (aerc), Bangalore, took an important step forward when they radio-collared two more elephants in the Buxa Tiger Reserve area of northern West Bengal.

The total number of collared elephants in the reserve now stands at six. The reserve, under the Indian Eco-Development Project, has contracted with the research body to undertake elephant-related studies. Home to more than 300 elephants, it is one of the largest forest patches in the area. Elephant collaring is meant to generate data on the migratory patterns of pachyderms across the region. "Radio devices are attached to the collars, which last about 10 years," reveals aerc director Raman Sukumar. "It is through these devices that a set of satellites is able to track and provide coordinates within declared levels of errors. This helps us to ascertain the movement of collared elephants," he adds.

Elephants are known to have large ranges over which they roam depending upon the season -- one reason why this animal comes into such frequent, and often calamitous, contact with humans. But the home ranges of the Buxa elephants remain a labyrinthine puzzle despite some studies having been conducted in the region. The project also seeks to gather data on the usage of habitat by the pachyderms and their dietary habits.

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