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MYSURU: A team from Karnataka has done the state proud by capturing three trouble-making tuskers in Maharashtra recently. Abhimanyu, 49, known for his valour, led the operation, which also had Arjuna (the present howdah elephant), Gajendra and Harsha.
Nagarahole National Park veterinarian K S Umashankar, who led the team, told TOI that a group of 25, including the elephants, left for Sindhudurg district in the second week of February.
“The Maharashtra forest ministry contacted our seniors following frequent complaints of crop damage and attack on cattle by tuskers in villages in Sindhudurg district. When we arrived at the Ambari depot in the Sawantwadi forest division, villagers didn’t have much hope the two-year-old problem would end. But they congratulated us after the elephants were caught within a week.
“After doing a quick recce of the region on February 8, we succeeded in rescuing a tusker on February 9 and another two days later. We resumed our operation on February 14. It took us nearly a day and a half to capture a third tusker on February 15. The tuskers, aged between 25 and 40 years, used to move separately in patchy forest regions in Sindhudurg,” the vet explained.
Abhimanyu has helped out in nearly 100 operations to capture elephants and tigers in the past three decades.
The Maharashtra government has recommended an award for the Karnataka team. “Sindhudurg-Ratnagiri MP Vinayak Raut honoured us on completion of the operation,” Umashankar said.
Three Karnataka forest employees are still in Sindhudurg to tame and train the captured elephants.
It was the Karnataka forest department’s second successful operation outside Karnataka.
For any operation, troubleshooter Abhimanyu is the first choice of the Karnataka forest department. He has helped the department in operations in Karnataka and Madhya Pradesh. Mahout Vasantha says has full confidence in the tusker.
A few years ago, when two elephants entered Mysuru, Abhimanyu was called in. Earlier, his services were in catching a tiger in HD Kote.
The elephant, captured in Kodagu in 1977, has participated in Dasara processions for the past 17 years. He was almost sold to a Kerala timber merchant in the early 1990s, an officer said.