Mrunal Manmay Dash

Keonjhar: Call it a love for wildlife or a mother's unrelenting love, Kuntala Kumari Penthei from Purushottampur village in the district can easily be spotted every noon in the nearby jungle calling out her pet 'Dhuda', a wild boar.

It has been over a year since Kuntala lost her younger daughter to illness. But the wild boar calf that came running to her at the funeral of her daughter made her rethink the priority. She could either shed tears on the untimely death or as she herself terms it, embrace the new guest in her life as God's own way to fill her bosom again with maternal love.

She chose the latter and brought home the calf after naming it Dhuda to nurture it as one of her own. As time flew, the calf drew attention from all around, ultimately spelling doom for Kuntala as the forest department came searching for it and took away Dhuda from her custody to set it free in the jungle just seven days back.

"I had raised it from infancy. Who will not get hurt if somebody snatches away her child all of a sudden," said a weeping Kuntala.

Kuntala's elder daughter Rajashree Penthei posed some questions at the department too. "Dhuda was with us from the beginning. It does not know how and where to search for food. And it is particularly dangerous for its survival in the wildfire that has been raging in the jungles all across Odisha," she said.

It is pertinent to mention here that the wild boars (Sus Scrofa) are protected under Schedule III of the Wildlife Protection Act in Odisha and thereby it is completely illegal to either kill or keep it as a pet.

Kuntala lost her child again, but this time to the forest officials who assured her that Dhuda will be taken care of and will be kept under observation.

Speaking to OTV, the Range Officer of Telkoi forest range, Pramod Kumar Sethi said, "To become emotional is natural, but her concerns about the boar's food are not true. They are wild creatures and they know perfectly well how to survive in the jungle."

But for a mother who poured all her love and affection to that creature, it was no less than a cruel separation that the government forced on her.

"They have neither any empathy nor love for the boar," she lamented accusing the forest officials of taking away her child.

(Edited By Pradeep Singh)