Statements of mahouts and eyewitnesses have raised several doubts over the turn of events that led to the death of Arjuna, the tusker, in a fight with the wild elephant at Yeslur range on Monday.
Forest Minister Eshwar Khandre, in his statement on Monday, had said that Arjuna died after a fight with a wild elephant. However, a mahout who was part of the operation gave a statement to the media that Arjuna suffered a bullet injury during the operation, because of which he could not fight.
As the wild tusker came forward to attack the tamed elephants, the staff initially opened fire in the air. According to a mahout, Arjuna suffered an injury during the firing.
Meanwhile, a veterinarian involved in the operation darted a tamed elephant, Prashanth, instead of the wild elephant, which was identified for capture. Vikram Gowda, a local, claimed to have witnessed the turn of events and told the media that, by mistake, the veterinarian darted the tamed elephant. As the team realised the mistake, they rushed to treat the elephant. While one of the elephants was under treatment, the wild elephant came forward to attack.
“The wild elephant was in musth. And only Arjun, who was also in musth, could face the wild tusker. He faced and fought. The wild elephant was much younger compared to Arjuna,” he said.