Elephants are usually calm and friendly animals, but obviously, fixing a GPS device on an elephant is not an easy task. It takes expertise, professionalism, planning, and teamwork to do so. Basically, an anesthetic is used to immobilize the elephant which is quite effective for giant animals like elephants, however, humans are hypersensitive to it. This anesthetic can be absorbed from the skin; therefore, it needs to be handled very carefully.
The wildlife team understands all the pre-requisites and precautions and handles the situations quite professionally. A dart containing a syringe loaded with anesthetic and a charge within is fired from a specified capture gun. As soon as it impacts the elephant, the internal charge fires thereby injecting the anesthetic into the animal. The dart and anesthetic do not harm the animals although it takes five to fifteen minutes to act.
Once the animal is immobilized the team puts a cloth on its eyes so that it does not get frightened with the process, and the team can quickly set up a tracking device – the GPS collar around its neck. Since elephants are so giant, getting the collar around their neck is not so easy. However, elephant collaring allows the wildlife department of Sri Lanka to monitor the individual elephant.
This also allows the wildlife department of Sri Lanka to tell if an elephant is stationary, sick, injured, or actively moving. It also helps predict the locations where human-elephant conflict may happen. Elephants help maintain the savanna and forest ecosystems for other species while being integrally tied to rich biodiversity. They count among the most empathetic and smartest creatures on earth.
While they hold great importance for tourism, research shows that elephant conservation is a smart economic policy for Sri Lanka. Though it can be challenging to convince local people for elephant conservation through proper education and dissipation of knowledge, it can significantly help to recover elephants from being endangered species.
When the team is done fixing the device, everyone clears the surroundings and the reversing anesthetic is injected into an ear vein of elephant. Revived, the elephant quickly jumps and runs away.