Sidda stands again! Stricken elephant injured after falling in a dam is back on his feet and eating well after the Indian army built him a supportive frame.


Aimee Brannen, Daily Mail

Date Published

See link for photos & video of Sidda.

A seriously injured wild elephant is back on his feet and has regained his appetite after army engineers constructed a special frame to help him.

Fifty military engineers were drafted in last week to build the supportive metal enclosure with a pulley system for Sidda, who broke his leg when he fell into the Manchanabele Dam in Magadi, Karnataka, back in August.

Animal rescue charity Wildlife SOS, which has been instrumental in caring for him, said that the bull, thought to be about 35 years of age, is now improving after weeks spent gravely ill and lying on his side on the river bank, in the Ramanagara district.

His condition has improved over the past few days since being able to stand with the help of the new enclosure

While it is still early days in Sidda’s recovery and his prognosis remains poor, the news comes as a huge relief to the thousands of animal lovers who have either flocked to visit the stricken bull to offer prayers or followed his story online.  

After sustaining his injury, the partially-blind elephant waded into a nearby ditch, using the natural buoyancy of the water to alleviate the pain in his fractured limb.

Dedicated locals initially tried to nurse Sidda through his injuries, but last month experts from the Karnataka Forest Department and charity Wildlife SOS carried out a grueling four-hour operation to pull the elephant onto the river banks for treatment.

Two trained elephants joined the rescue on October 21 to help calm terrified Sidda, whose story has touched animal lovers across India.

Despite a few signs of promise, the elephant’s condition continued to deteriorate and he spent weeks stranded on his side, eating very little, if anything.

After hearing of his plight, Army Chief and current Ministry of External Affairs minister, General V K Singh, called on the military to step in.

Under the command of Brig R K Sachdeva, 50 troops from the Madras Sappers Division constructed a supportive structure to harness the animal and keep him lifted to allow better treatment.

The bespoke steel frame comes complete with a complex mechanism of weight bearing pulleys and support belts, and is lined with gunny bags filled with hay to protect Sidda from any further injuries.

And on Thursday last week he was successfully lifted into the special frame.

A spokesperson for Wildlife SOS said: ‘It is important to have him in an erect position to carry out routine checkups, provide intensive treatment for his wounds and feed him with ease.

‘We have taken careful measures to ensure that Sidda does not come in direct contact with the metal frames, therefore reducing the chances of him accidentally hurting himself.

‘In order to do so, we have placed two layers of wooden beams next to the metal structure and lined the frame with soft bedding materials.

‘Sidda will be able to lean against the support beams and the harness belts and pulleys will help support the elephant, allowing him to take the weight off his fractured limb.

‘This will enable us to access him safely and at the same time, he will remain comfortable.’

Just two days later, Sidda began to regain his appetite and has been seen bathing himself for the first time in weeks.

Before last Thursday, he had been lying on his side for weeks and Wildlife SOS had said he was clearly suffering with a ‘grave’ prognosis.

Meanwhile, vets are treating his broken limb, a dangerously infected abscess on his back and other sores on his side.

The Wildlife SOS spokesperson added: ‘Sidda has regained his appetite and has been munching on green fodder and fruits all morning. He was also seen taking baths and has not shown any signs of resistance so far.’

Up until the frame was erected, vets and wildlife specialists had been using a crane to lift Sidda, whose prognosis was described as ‘grave’.

Questions have previously been asked about why euthanasia was not considered as an option if the animal is unlikely to recover.

But strict rules governing wild animals in India mean that any decision on his welfare lay with the chief wildlife warden in the forest department with jurisdiction.

Geeta Seshamani, co-founder of Wildlife SOS, which has been working round-the-clock to help Sidda, told MailOnline that the case had highlighted the need for changes in wildlife conservation regulations.

But Geeta believes that earlier intervention could have given Sidda a better chance of survival and eventual recovery.

She said: ‘Wildlife SOS has been assisting with medical care and treatment of Sidda with the permission of the Karnataka Forest Department and Chief Wildlife Warden.

‘Being a young tusker, he is extremely valuable for conservation and this incident highlights a need to change the way we look at wildlife conservation.

‘Traditional conservationists do not advocate interventions and feel wild animals should be left to survive or perish as per the laws of nature.

‘However, when we consider the shrinking numbers of bulls in the Asian elephant population and the value of a young bull like Sidda, perhaps timely intervention is something to have been considered earlier in the day.’

Kartick Satyanarayan, also a co-founder of the charity, said: ‘The Wildlife SOS team is monitoring Sidda round the clock and doing all we can to help this poor elephant by providing him treatment and care.

‘We hope and pray for his recovery. We have already invested substantial resources in providing treatment including sending a veterinarian with a portable digital X-ray machine by plane.’

Geeta added: ‘Sidda is a wild elephant and is therefore under the jurisdiction of the Karnataka Forest Department and any decisions regarding him including euthanasia can only be taken only by the Chief Wildlife Warden.’