‘Rowdy’ Ranga ban gaya gentle jumbo (State of Karnataka, India)


The Times of India

Date Published

BENGALURU: Looks like Ranga has given up his ‘rowdy’ ways. Recently shifted from Bannerghatta National Park, the 50-year-old tusker is getting accustomed to life at Mattigodu elephant camp in Nagarahole National Park. Caretakers say the elephant is no longer aggressive and is responding to their commands.

The tusker’s hostile behaviour — be it raiding agricultural fields or getting into conflict with humans — in the past had earned him the prefix ‘rowdy’. 

This had forced the forest department to capture the tusker in a major operation near Savanadurga on the outskirts of Bengaluru last December. 
Since then, Ranga was kept in a kraal (enclosure) before being sent to the camp.

“We needn’t keep Ranga in a kraal anymore,” said Dr Umashankar, veterinarian with the forest department, who led the recent relocation exercise. 

“The elephant has turned gentle and is responding to the instructions of mahouts and other camp staff. Even on Tuesday, he was cooperative when I administered an injection for a wound in the leg. In fact, Ranga’s behaviour is better than that of the other captured elephant, Airavata,” he added.

Two camps in Nagarahole, Balle and Mattigodu house around 40 elephants which have been captured over the years by the forest department in order to avoid man-elephant conflict.

May be named after ruler

Umashankar said staffers at the Mattigodu camp feel there’s a need to rename Ranga, and more importantly, get rid of the ‘rowdy’ tag. “Some mahouts have suggested the elephant be called Sriranga, one of the names of Lord Vishnu. 

We usually name camp elephants after characters from the Ramayana or Mahabharata. Since Ranga was captured near Bengaluru, we may name him after a famous ruler or personality from there,” he added. Ranga, forest officials said, was named by their field staff and villagers. Rowdy Ranganna, incidentally, is the name of a yesteryear blockbuster of Dr Rajkumar.

Sources in the forest department said Ranga will be tamed further to help them capture wild elephants in cases of conflict. Foresters say he will also help them in patrolling remote forest areas. 

‘Nagarahole better place for Ranga’

Rakshith Gowda, a medical student, who spearheaded an online campaign demanding Ranga’s release into the wild, said, “Though it’s painful to see Ranga in captivity, Nagarahole is a better place for him compared to the kraal in Bannerghatta. I was told he will remain chained for a few more weeks till he gets acclimatized to camp atmosphere. Hope he leads a better life in future.”

Animal lovers said, “Elephants in captivity have no other way but to adjust. It’s just that some animals take time to get used to camp life. But capturing elephants will not reduce human-elephant conflict. Soon there will be other wild elephants which will occupy the vacant space,” said an activist.