MEG men sweat it out to make Sidda comfortable, ready metal structure (Bengaluru, India)


Aditi Sequeira, Times of India

Date Published

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While a restless Sidda sprayed mud on himself every now and then to stay cool and tried moving his hind legs, over 40 personnel from Madras Engineer Group (MEG) and Centre returned to work as early as 8 on Tuesday morning -their sole purpose being to provide some relief to the suffering jumbo.

Without wasting time, they began unloading materials and arranging them neatly next to the tent under which Sidda was being bathed in antiseptic liquid. The animal squirmed every time the liquid touched the spots which hurt the most, flapping his ears in reaction to all the noise in the backdrop.

“We are building a rigid structure and all the materials have been brought from MEG, loaded in trucks to Avarehalli village, on the banks of Manchanabele dam. Sidda weighs about 4 tonnes and we have to make sure the structure is firmly in place, so that even if he moves about, he is safe. We are doing our bit to make the wild elephant stand so that it’s easier for him to eat and drink,” said an army official present at the spot.

It took about 44 army men to complete the structure by 2pm. However, Sidda wasn’t moved into it immediately as the Wildlife SOS veterinarians and the forest department officials decided to add a layer of wood and create a cradle-like bottom with harnesses so that Sidda can sleep comfortably if he wants to.

“We are adding a layer of additional wooden support because he shouldn’t be in touch with the metal.The harnesses will help him balance and also lessen his weight. It will help with defecation and urination, things he has been doing lying down for days together now,” said Dr Arun A Sha of Wildlife SOS.

On Tuesday afternoon, Dr Arun and his team, along with the army men, were able to get hold of Sidda’s legs in order to take X-rays of his wound.

All through, five men held on to different ropes to stop Sidda from moving. They even tried enticing him with food, which the elephant turned down, for he very well knew he was being examined.

Loaded with sugarcane sticks and ragi balls, Basvaraja, a forest watcher, appeared near Sidda. He placed the jumbo’s favourite delicacies right in front of him and patted him, dusting mud off his back. But the wild animal wanted a little more pampering, lifting his trunk and demanding that he be fed. One by one, he munched on the food and even tried moving a bit.

It’s the forest watchers who have stood behind Sidda through his troubled times. A group of 4-5 forest watchers, including the beat forest officer, have been guarding the injure animal day in and day out in the field near Manchanabele dam. “He becomes active and restless quickly .He listens to us talk and reacts accordingly. His sense of smell is very strong and he immediately flings fruits and vegetables that have a hint of medicine in them,” said Chadrashekar V, the beat forest officer.

The men keeping guard say the same villagers who had turned against him when he destroyed their crops are now visiting him, communicating with him and offering him food. “The man whose field he is lying on was angry at first, but now he has provided half an acre of his land for the animal’s recovery.He will be compensated of course,” said another forest watcher. The elephant only accepts food from the watchers and doesn’t allow anybody else to come too close to him. “When he was being given IV drips through his ears, he was in terrible pain. It was hard to see him like that, so we never left his side,” said Govindaiah, a forest watcher.

The watchers have been dutifully spraying antiseptic liquid on his wounds, applying powder to them, brushing his skin covered in mud and giving him bath with a sprinkler, spraying painkillers so flies wouldn’t sit on his massive body. “We have grown fond of him. Sometimes, he amuses us when he flings food that he doesn’t like and tries to kick with his still strong leg. He is a fighter,” say the forest guards.