The forcible eviction of a herd of ten wild elephants by the Andhra Pradesh government to Orissa has driven a wedge between the two neighbouring states. Orissa Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik on Tuesday shot off an angry letter to his counterpart YSR Reddy to stop evicting the elephants in an “inhuman manner” by administering tranquillisers and transporting the pachyderms in trucks with ropes firmly tied to their legs.
Of the first batch of two elephants, which were transported in trucks, one female elephant died in Orissa on Monday. Visuals of the elephants writhing in pain and trying desperately to unshackle the fetters have evoked strong protests in Orissa.
Patnaik, in his letter to Reddy has mentioned that elephants are not bound to observe geographical and administrative boundaries between states. He said, “I have written a letter to the Mr. Reddy to stop the inhuman transportation of elephants and wait till the harvest season when the elephants will return on their own in search of food to Orissa.”
Patnaik further said, “It’s the natural tendency of the elephants to move freely within forests. If the elephants have crossed over to another state, then the concerned state government should look after their safety.” The letter further mentions that the Andhra Pradesh government is not observing the right norms to look after the elephants.
Earlier this year, ten elephants belonging to Lakhari sanctuary in Orissa crossed over to Andhra Pradesh. The pachyderms sneaked into the Srikakulum district after crossing the Bansadhara river flowing along the Orissa-Andhra border. In the rainy season, the elephants could not return as the water level in Bansadhara river increased.
On October 16, a joint meeting of Orissa and Andhra Pradesh wildlife officials was finally held in Srikakulum district where a plan was also approved on how to guide the elephants into Orissa without endangering their lives. The mission named Operation ‘Gajendra’ was launched on October 24 as elephant experts from Andhra Pradesh, Orissa and Assam joined hands to bring back the elephants.