Sidda draws large crowds to Manchanabele (India)


Mohit M. Rao, The Hindu

Date Published

Even during a weekday, groups of curious onlookers attempted to make their way into the fenced area of Machanabele dam.

The cynosure of all eyes, sympathy and attention was Sidda, a 35-year-old injured tusker. Curiosity, however, has kept personnel of the Department of Forests and the local police on tenterhooks. They want to make sure the elephant is attended to despite the large crowds that come to take photos or to feed the animal, or perform rituals to “aid its recovery”.

Since it fell into a ditch near Dodderi on the outskirts of Bengaluru on August 30, the elephant has spent more than 55 days on the banks of the reservoir. However, for the past 12 days, it has been immobile and writhing in pain. This, however, has not deterred the crowds. During the Deepavali holidays, police officials said, over 3,000 people, including Kannada film actors, local politicians and visitors from Bengaluru and Mysuru, turned up.

On Thursday, more groups of people came, and Cauvery Neeravari Nigam Ltd. officials, who have fenced the land around the reservoir, struggled to keep them from entering their gates. “I’ve been seeing the elephant in the news and felt like I had to see it,” said Ganganayya, a daily-wage labourer from Nelamangala who had come with two of his friends.

Forest officials said the crowds had become a major hindrance to the elephant’s treatment.

“They insist on feeding him or do pujas close to the elephant. They take photos with the flash on. Many touch the elephant out of curiosity or for blessings … as crowds swell on holidays, it is becoming difficult to treat the elephant,” an official said.

The crowds insist on feeding the injured elephant or do pujas close by. They take photos with the flash on. It is becoming difficult to treat it