Rogue tusker trapped, relocated to Chilla range in Rajaji

dehradun Updated: Jan 19, 2018 20:48 IST
Nihi Sharma
Nihi Sharma
Hindustan Times
elephant,Rajaji Tiger Reserve,Haridwar

The rogue tusker being lifted with the help of a crane. (HT Photo)

After an operation of over 12 hours, officials of the Rajaji Tiger Reserve and the Haridwar forest division tranquilised and relocated an elephant that killed two people and injured three in BHEL area.

Chief wildlife warden Digvijay Singh Khati will take stock of the situation on Saturday and until then the tusker will be kept under observation of vet and staff members. Rajaji director Sanatan said it won’t be right to release the animal as it could cost more lives. The animal might have to be kept in captivity for a few months, he added.

But wildlife activists were upset with the use of a crane to lift and put the tusker onto a truck, saying the operation could have damaged bones of the tranquilised pachyderm. In March last year, an expert panel had confirmed that an eight-year-old tiger died after being crushed by an earthmover. A video had surfaced showing the tiger being pinned down under the machine’s jaw bucket.

About 10 pm on Thursday night, the forest staff cornered the tusker at Bhileshwar Colony right opposite to the Haridwar divisional forest office and fired a tranquiliser dart. It takes at least 20 minutes for the tranquiliser to show its effects. The tusker scampered away to a densely wooded area nearby where another team waited till it calmed down.

Another booster shot brought the tusker down to its knees. The elephant was unable to stand up on its own after it regained senses. It was then that the wildlife officials brought a crane to take away the tusker in the truck to Chilla range of the reserve.

“The use of the crane is illegal as it could have broken some of the elephant’s bones. The veterinarian involved in the process is also naive and the officers could have taken help from experts of Wildlife Institute of India,” former wildlife warden of Rajaji, Rajeev Mehta said.

The Rajaji management, on its part, maintained the tusker didn’t suffer any grievous injury. “We carefully used the crane only to lift the elephant from the ground and shift it onto a truck. It did get some injuries on its body because of thorns that pierced its skin, but no other damage was reported so far,” Rajaji director Sanatan Sonkar said.

The tusker, aged about 15-20 years old, had wreaked havoc at BHEL Ranipur and other adjoining areas. Within a week, it killed two people, injured three and damaged property and standing crops. “It’s a nightmare to live with these animals around. The elephant caused damage to human life and property as well,” Sachidanand Rawat, a shopkeeper, said.

First Published: Jan 19, 2018 20:48 IST