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Tusker keeping people on the edge

Special Correspondent
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It is dodging forest staff by hiding in a bamboo grove or venturing into a lake

Relentless: Elephants Arjuna and Mary struggling to subdue the sub-adult tusker (left) which is giving a harrowing time to the people near H.D. Kote. — PHOTO: M.A. SRIRAM
Relentless: Elephants Arjuna and Mary struggling to subdue the sub-adult tusker (left) which is giving a harrowing time to the people near H.D. Kote. — PHOTO: M.A. SRIRAM

A lone tusker, which has strayed into human habitation, has kept people on the edge in H.D. Kote since the last three days.

The Department of Forests roped in the services of veteran elephant Arjuna to subdue the rogue tusker. But the latter refused to be browbeaten by the might of Arjuna or the relentless drumming by the local people in their effort to drive the animal back into the forest.

The authorities also pressed in another elephant, Mary, to entice the runaway tusker. But the latter refused to bite the bait.

Harrowing time

Though relatively diminutive in size, the elephant, which emerged from the Nagarahole National Park, is giving the Forest Department personnel and the local people a harrowing time.

The tusker was first sighted at Belaganahalli three days ago. Late in the night, it emerged at Chakkodanahalli where Arjuna and Mary were brought in, to rein in the rampaging elephant.

When Arjuna was on the verge of subduing the tusker, the latter made a dash to the nearby lake and stayed put, testing the patience of the department staff and the local community.

Though two veterinarians armed with tranquilizer reached the spot on Thursday, they were unable to find the mark as the elephant was dodging them by hiding in the bamboo grove or venturing into the lake.

At Chakkodanahalli, the wild tusker damaged the house of the postmaster Srinivas, entered agricultural fields and returned to the lakebed.

A large crowd had gathered to witness the unfolding drama in the fields when the elephant sprinted towards a residential locality and damaged the drainage pits and tobacco barrels before disappearing under the cover of darkness and remerging from the forest later.

Ajai Misra, Field Director, Project Elephant, and Chief Conservator of Forests, who is leading the operation to either capture the elephant or force it back to the forest, told The Hindu that the tusker may have been scared by the presence of people and hence refusing to retrace its route to the forest.

“The elephant was feeling very safe in the lake as the water body is spread over 60 to 80 acres. Though we have brought the tranquiliser, the veterinarians are unable to use it as the elephant continues to play hide and seek, and ventures into the lake once in a while,” Mr. Misra said.

He suspected that the sub-adult elephant must have lost its orientation and hence was finding it difficult to get back to the forest.

Suspended

The operation to capture the tusker was suspended for the day late in the evening on Thursday following heavy rain. Meanwhile, another elephant, Abhimanyu, has reached the spot and elephant Gajendra is likely to arrive at the spot by Friday morning.

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