After serving a term in confinement, tusker Nandan has a public service on hand.
The forest department plans to use the 24-year-old tusker as a kumki (trained commando elephant) to tame wild elephants so that they do not destroy lives and property.
On Monday, Nandan was transported to the elephant-training centre at the Chandaka Wildlife Sanctuary, 60 km from Bhubaneswar, from Nandankanan Zoo, on the outskirts of the Orissa capital, where he spent ten years in chains after unintentionally killing his mahout.
Transporting Nandan, who weighs 5,000 kg, was a gruelling task. About 35 wildlife officials, elephant experts from Assam and a veterinary doctor spent about nine hours to complete the job.
The tusker was first given a tranquilliser. Then his legs were tied with ropes and a conveyer belt, and then he was loaded on a truck with the help of a crane.
However, during the journey, Nandan tried to break free. “He had to be administered the tranquilliser thrice during the process of transporting him to Chandaka,” said vet Indramani Nath.
In 1997, when Nandan had just reached puberty, his mood was violent. He should have been in chains for at least 15 days to get over his mast (virile) period. But the mahout, not mindful of this, freed him and was walking ahead of him one day when Nandan biffed him with his tusk. He died in the hospital 10 days later.
Following this, he was put in chains for seven months in Nandankanan. In 1998, he was taken to Chandaka for training. However, in 2000 he again showed erratic behaviour and was brought back to Nandankanan.
The elephant remembered his stint in Chandaka in 1998, when he underwent strenuous training. So he was not ready to go there again. When forest officials tried to make him walk to Chandaka last month, he did not give in. So this time they took him by truck.