Tranquiliser fails to drug rogue elephant

Dehra Dun : The planners who decided on carving out the Ganga Canal from the Ganga in Hardwar for irrigation purposes, bang along the traditional migration route of the wild elephant herds, without taking the migration of the elephants into consideration, may have long gone. But they have created a situation where the pachyderms have come in direct conflict with man.

Over the years, it was not just the Ganga Canal, but other developmental projects were also taken up along the migration route, which further stopped the migration of elephants from one forest division to another in search of fodder. This has forced the wild elephants to move to the villages and fields in search of fodder and thereby come in direct conflict with man.

Traditionally the elephant herds moved from the lower Himalayas to the base of the Shiwaliks in Paonta Sahib after crossing the Yamuna eating the fodder available in the forests. However, with the migration routes having been cut off because of the development projects, the small forest compartments can hardly sustain the elephant hers for a long period and they have to venture to the fields in search of fodder.

And when these pachyderms have ventured into the villages, villagers have pelted them with stones, sticks, thrown boiling water on them and even fired near them to scare them back into the forests. But hunger has forced the elephants to come to the fields time and again only to be roughed up by the villagers, because of which some of them have started attacking human beings.

With attacks on humans being by elephants on the rise and reports to affect coming from various forest divisions, there are doubts in the forest staff whether it is just one elephant that has been declared a rogue which is attacking human beings or are there three of them. However, as of now focus is on tranquilising the elephant that has been declared a rogue so that he could be re-located in another forest division.

However, on Tuesday night efforts to tranquilise the rogue elephant proved useless as the tranquiliser, fired with a tranquiling gun had no effect on the pachyderm. It backed away into the forests after being hit. The elephant, came to the herbal garden near the Bhadrakali check post where three female elephants brought from the Corbett National Park to catch the rogue were tethered.

The rogue elephant is said to have attacked on of the females, named Gomati, and mauled her badly with his tusks. In the trumpeting of the elephants as they fought, the wildlife staff reached the scene and expert also fired a tranquiliser, which hit the rogue elephant on the lower portion of the leg, forcing the pachyderm back into the forest.

But apparently the tranquiliser had on effect on the pachyderm. After a couple of hours, it returned with another elephant and a calf in tow and crossed into the sugar cane fields to have their fill. Though forest department sources claim that it was the same rogue elephant, others in the department feel that it could be another group of elephant which may have come, and the rogue may actually be recovering from the effect of the tranquiliser somewhere deep in the forest and a search should be conducted for it.

A journalist with over 40 years of experience, Jagdish Bhatt is Editor Hill Post (Uttarakhand). Jagdish has worked with India's leading English dailies, which include Times of India, Indian Express, Pioneer and several other reputed publications. A highly acclaimed journalist, Jagdish is a recipient of many awards, latest being the 2011 Development Journalism Award. He lives in Dehra Dun.

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