Earthmovers closed in on a patch of forest in West Bengal’s Bankura district to dig the ground as the beast lay motionless. This morning, smoke was seen rising from the area. A full-grown male elephant, shot dead with no less 12 bullets after a dangerous chase, was being cremated.
The elephant had been killed last night after tranquillisers failed to bring the tusker down. The chase had involved drones, five teams and nearly cost one senior official his life after the elephant turned aggressive and charged at the teams.
The elephant had been declared a rogue last year after it killed at least one person and destroyed several homes in Bankura district.
Its killing comes a month after union minister Maneka Gandhi, famous for her activism in animal rights, had said that the West Bengal government had got permission to kill wild elephants from the environment ministry.
These comments came when 200 Nilgai were killed in Bihar. At that time West Bengal authorities had stoutly denied that it had sought clearance to kill but confirmed that it had sought permission to capture 18 wild elephants which had claimed 71 lives in South West Bengal in since April last year. 35 of the deaths had occurred in Bankura.
On Monday, wildlife officials launched drones in the Bankura forest of Beliatore. Once the cameras spotted the two elephants, five separate teams were moved towards them. A smaller eight foot tall elephant was tranquillised and captured but the bigger tusker showed no signs of slowing down despite being hit by several darts.
“Yesterday wildlife officials again launched an operation to capture the elephant but after being darted 7 times the elephant turned aggressive and attacked the Hulla party and officials. One senior wildlife official Sujoy Ghosh was almost trampled to death. At that time wildlife officials decided they had no option but to shoot the elephant dead,” Pradeep Vyas, chief wildlife warden, West Bengal said.
“It has never been our intention to kill. We in fact got five elephants from Nor6th Bengal to Bankura to help in the capture of rogue elephants but it did not work. We had not option,” he added.