Hounded, hurt tusker remains elusive (Bhubaneswar, India)


New Indian Express

Date Published

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A lone tusker which has been roaming the forests of Athagarh with an injured leg has managed to keep Forest sleuths at bay for the last five days. Attempts to track the jumbo for tranquillisation has failed too.
But what is a matter of concern is that a front leg of the elephant has been trapped in a tyre. Unable to free itself, the jumbo has been moving around the forests with the tyre which has started to injure its leg.

Athagarh Forest Division which had sought assistance of experts from OUAT and logistics support from Nandankanan Zoo had located the elephant on Tuesday and Wednesday but could not tranquillise it. On Friday, the jumbo could not be traced while today, it was located only during the evening due to which tranquillisation was ruled out. The forest officials are likely to resume the operation on Sunday.

Since the left leg has been trapped in the tyre for about a week, sources said, the elephant has been hurt. Any delay in tranquillising the elephant may prove risky for the jumbo. In the wild, elephants find support from the herd but this being a loner, the animal has struggled.

What has not helped the matters is the manner in which the Forest Department has approached the whole exercise. Instead of trying to locate the jumbo quietly, the forest staff have made matters worse by allowing locals who have been trailing them. Sources said the team has even been accompanied by media persons.

“The whole exercise should be carried out in a discreet manner without raising any attention because that disturbs the animal. An enraged elephant is most likely to vanish from the location,” said a forest official. Interestingly, on Tuesday, the local forest staff had been charged by the jumbo and some of them sustained injuries too. Wildlife experts say elephants give mock charge when they find too many people following them and that should have been avoided in the first place.

“The forest staff must follow the standard operating procedure which the Ministry of Environment and Forest and Climate Change had issued for such scenario.

The first measure should be to cordon off the area with help of police and if necessary, clamp prohibitory orders. It is hardly followed,” said an expert.

However, Athagarh being a political sensitive place neither police nor forest officials are willing to take on the locals. With panchayat polls drawing close, none is willing to take any risk.