Sleepless nights for wildlife personnel as limping tusker’s hide & seek continues

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Bhubaneswar/Cuttack: For the wildlife personnel, a distressed pachyderm with a motor tyre stuck in one of its legs nearly two months back continues to be a cause of worry.

Last sighted in Athgarh forest area in Cuttack district, the forest officials have renewed its exercise to disentangle the ‘foreign’ object from the animal’s leg by way of tranquilising technique to restore its unhindered mobility.

The elephant has strayed into Athgarh forest division since past one week. It had meandered aimlessly for nearly two months in Chandaka forest in the close vicinity of Bhubaneswar. The ‘uninvited guest’ continues to give sleepless nights to local forest personnel.

The elephant was last sighted on Thursday night at dense Kharakola reserve forest. Round-the-clock vigil is on to track the animal so that elephant could be tranquilised, Divisional Forest Officer, Athgarh Forest Division, Arun Kumar Swain.

The forest area where the animal was sighted is exceedingly remote and inaccessible replete with thorny shrubs. Movement on the foot is the sole way out to reach the spot. The forest staffs have perched themselves atop trees building a temporary bamboo structure. They are able to faintly sight the elephant from the treetop. The animal is still in pain and is showing violent behavioural symptoms. It’s a risky proposition to march on foot anywhere near the animal to tranquilise it as it may attack in self-defence. The thick forest cover is bereft of viable escape routes. The sole option left with the wildlife staffs is to disperse the animal to nearby Soukhasana forest which has ample open space. Applying the tranquiliser would be an easier task once the tusker is driven away to the adjoining forest, said DFO Swain.

Yesterday, those on night duty burst fire crackers so that the jumbo leaves Kharakola for neighbouring forest in sheer panic. But it proved counter-productive. The serene silence of forest was virtually ruptured as the elephant went berserk trampling down a couple of standing trees despite reduced physical mobility, the official told this web portal.

“We are still hopeful. The elephant may leave the jungle soon as it may instinctively opt for change of place. The neighbouring forest has fruit-bearing trees with luxuriant branches which may come to the liking of the injured animal. It will be easier to tame it and remove the tyre once to adjoining forest. Tranquiliser experts either from Angul or Bhubanswar could be summoned to the said forest which is accessible by jeep. It will hardly take hour-an-half for the team to arrive at the forest.

 

The forest personnel have in the meanwhile faced the wrath of the limping elephant. A forest guard has been injured while a jeep carrying the staffs was attacked by the elephant on March 18. Those in  the jeep fled in the nick of time to save themselves from elephant’s fury.

It’s a freak incident that lays bare the human interference into habitation corridors of elephant. The dumping of the worn tyre in the forest area is indicative of human interference in animals’ habitat, pointed out Kedar Kumar Swain, Divisional Forest Officer, Chandaka Forest Division.

People living on the fringes of Chandaka had spotted it two months back. Since then the drive to remove the tyre by way of tranquilising method got underway to provide soothing relief to the animal. But the exercise is yet to yield the desired result as the animal continues to play hide and seek, said DFO Swain.

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