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Will Sidda ever be able to stand on his legs? While no one – even the forest department – has an answer to this question, animal lovers are joining the effort to save this gentle giant who spent his entire life close to human habitation, but with no conflict with humans.
The 50-year-old tusker is battling various injuries and health complications at Manchanabele, on the outskirts of Bengaluru.
The hide-bound bureaucrats of the Forest Department dodge questions over the condition of ailing pachyderm, even as residents around Manchanabele and a few wildlife lovers are doing their bit.
They are led by a Bengaluru-based couple Kiran S J and Savitha Bharamagoudar, who are campaigning to help Sidda earn his right to live through their ‘Save Namma Sidda’ initiative. They have taken their campaign to the social media seeking help for Sidda.
The campaign has managed to attract the Forest authorities’ attention who have called in veterinary experts to treat it. But that appears to be merely a mechanical effort devoid of any concern and care for the ailing jumbo.
That is quite evident in their attitude to the whole issue. They reply rather curtly to the questions on jumbo’s health.
“How do we know what’s happening to the elephantt? We are treating the elephant. We are taking care of it,” Manjunath, DFO, Ramnagara snapped in reply to a question from Bfirst.in.
Interestingly, the animal which is protected under Schedule One of the Wildlife Act is left to fend for itself, after it was helped out of the waters of Manchanabele dam, where it had taken refuge, recently.
Veterinarians Arun Zakaria from Kerala and Kushal Kumar Sharma from Assam were called in to treat Sidda. They have now left after completing the ritual of treatment. The forest staff has cordoned off the area to prevent villagers and wildlife lovers from going near the elephant.
“The tusker is in a very bad shape. It is very weak and cannot get up by itself. It is throwing up whatever food and water fed to it. The department says the animal might attack us if we go close to it. But going by Sidda’s decade-long record, the elephant has never harmed anyone,” said Savitha.
The couple has even written to the Union Ministry of Environment and Forest and several non-government organisations seeking help to save Sidda.
“The animal needs more nutrition, probably fluids with a mix of ragi. The department fed him initially. Now, villagers are feeding it. But it is not able to swallow the food perhaps due to high dose of medicine,” observed Kiran. He added that there has been no effort to monitor its health. A body scan of the jumbo has revealed several bullet injuries.
Savita and Kiran hope that a better health care would ensure Sidda to bounce back to his normal self.
Sidda was injured when the forest department took up anti-depredation exercise to drive away the crop-raiding jumbos into forests. During that drive, Sidda who has lost vision in his right eye, fell into a ditch, suffering multiple fractures. Despite his pathetic condition, he was chased from Savanadurga forests until he found refuge in Manchanabele dam.
With his amazing spirit to live, the jumbo stretches his out trunk for food, but cannot move his body due to weakness. With injuries and medicines, he is not able to digest what he eats.
It must be mentioned that the jumbo was named Sidda by mahouts of Bannerghatta Biological Park for his sense of calmness. Being a lone tusker away from the herd, (unlike Rowdy Ranga, another lone tusker known for aggressive and unpredictable behaviour, often seen on the outskirts of Bannerghatta) Sidda is said to have never harmed any human being.