Karnataka

Elephant trapped by rail barricade, freed

The elephant trapped under the rail barricade on the outskirts of Bandipur.

The elephant trapped under the rail barricade on the outskirts of Bandipur.   | Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

An adult elephant which tried to squeeze itself through the rail barricade installed to curb human-elephant conflict around Bandipur, got trapped and had a harrowing time before the field staff and local villagers could reach the spot and free it by removing one of the railings.

The incident took place on the periphery of the forest last week. A video surfaced on Wednesday night and is going viral on various groups on social media since then. It showed the elephant trapped between the lower railing and the ground, trying to extricate itself in vain and thrashing wildly only to go silent for some time to recoup its energy.

T. Balachandra, Director, Bandipur Tiger Reserve, said the elephant was returning to the forests after raiding a farmland and got struck at a place called Vasthihalla where a 200-metre-long barricade is in place since 2016.

It tried to escape through the gap between the ground and the lower horizontal rail. But the elephant, being an adult and fairly large in size, got wedged near the hip portion and could neither prod itself forward not retract.

The local community informed the Forest Department staff who reached the spot and loosened the railing to free the elephant. The female elephant took sometime to regain its strength and composure before it could heave itself up and make a dash toward the forests, trumpeting all the while.

Though the rescue brought relief to all, it also brought back memories of another tusker which tried to hop over the railing but was left dangling and suffocated to death as its diaphragm was compressed by its own weight, at Nagarahole in December 2018.

Rail barricading has been taken up in the State around Bandipur, Nagarahole, M.M. Hills Wildlife Sanctuary and other places to prevent elephants from straying into villages bordering the forests where human-elephant conflict is high.

In Nagarahole, 43 km of rail barricading has been completed and it has reduced cash compensation claims arising out of crop damaged by elephants since the last 2 years.

However, there were complaints of large gap between the horizontal railings and many sub-adult elephants and calves used to easily squeeze themselves through the gap. Hence the barricades being laid at present have been redesigned by reducing the gap between the horizontal railings and the height has also been raised.

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Printable version | Aug 11, 2020 1:40:32 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/karnataka/elephant-trapped-by-rail-barricade-freed/article31915604.ece

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