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Jumbo tragedy: Truck crashes into elephants

india Updated: Jun 29, 2012 23:56 IST
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A 40-year-old cow elephant was crushed to death and another 35-year-old was injured when a speeding truck rammed them from the rear near Mahamaya Flyover at the Noida-Delhi border on Friday.

The police said the incident took place around 5.30am when both the elephants — Rupa and Champa —were going towards Delhi’s Wazirabad from Greater Noida, where they had been displayed at a wedding.

The dead elephant, Rupa, was owned by Zaheer Ahmed Jumman of Delhi’s Gautampuri area. The other elephant, Champa, was injured as its legs came under the wheels of the truck. Its owner Shaukat, a resident of Dadri in Greater Noida, has been informed.

Eyewitnesses said the truck was being driven rashly. Both the elephants were accompanied by mahouts, who also sustained injuries. They were rushed to the district hospital in Noida. While Rupa’s mahout Maharaj sustained head injuries, Champa’s caretaker Mukut injured his legs.

The police immediately summonned a veterinary doctor who declared Rupa dead. Forest and wildlife officers also rushed to the spot. It was only after five hours of the accident that Rupa’s body was lifted with a crane and put into a dumper. The animal was taken to Surajpur where a postmortem was conducted and she was buried.

A team of four doctors headed by Roopa Gandhi was formed to monitor the condition of the injured elephant.

Injured Champa was still lying under the Mahamaya Flyover as it could not be moved. A police team had been deployed to guard the animal. “Champa could not be moved as one of her legs came under the wheels of the truck. There is swelling in her right leg and it could also be a fracture. She has been given medication and will be under observation for two days,” said Gandhi of the Wildlife Trust of India.

The district forest department has also called in veterinary experts from Mathura’s Elephant Rehabilitation Centre to take care of Champa.

“A team of doctors will reach Noida by tonight. They will transport Champa to the Mathura centre by Saturday,” said B Prabhakar, divisional forest officer , Gautam Budh Nagar.

The driver of the truck (HR-38-L-8330) fled while leaving the truck behind. The police launched a manhunt to nab him.

Meanwhile, the owner of the elephant has registered an FIR.

The Aftermath

The tragic accident triggered a series of developments:

Heavy traffic jam

The accident lead to a heavy traffic jam as the Noida police failed to remove both the elephants for a few hours. The truck also remained stranded in the middle of the road. It was only after five hours of the accident that the dead elephant was lifted with a crane and put into a dumper. The jam disrupted vehicular movement between Noida and New Delhi.

Owners to be booked

The owners of both the elephants are likely to be booked by the police. Both did not have the permission to move the animals from one state to another. In one case, the ownership papers could not be furnished. “Rupa’s owner Zaheer produced the ownership papers issued by the forest department. But he did not have permission to transport the animal to UP from Delhi,” said B Prabhakar, divisional forest officer (DFO), Gautam Budh Nagar. As injured Champa’s owner Shaukat could not produce the papers, he is likely to be booked under Section 49 of the Wildlife Act.

Driver to be booked

“The truck driver will be booked under Section 9 of the Wildlife Act. As the driver’s negligence amounts to hunting, he will be booked accordingly,” added the divisional forest officer.

The movement norm

To transport elephants from one state to another, the owner needs to obtain an NoC from the DFO. Later, the owner needs to seek permission from a chief wildlife warden on the basis of the DFO’s NoC. The chief wildlife warden allows permission with some riders such as proper safety, food, other facilities to the elephant, besides no cruelty. Wildlife officials say generally owners don’t take permission to transport elephants from one state to the other.