Farewell to Arjuna: Hundreds of people bid adieu to Karnataka’s beloved tusker

The popular gentle giant was laid to rest at a Forest Department plantation in Sakaleshpur. Arjuna’s mahout, Vinod, was inconsolable and could be seen trying to wake the tusker up, unwilling to believe that he was no more.

December 05, 2023 05:21 pm | Updated 05:37 pm IST - Shivamogga

Final rites of Arjuna, the tusker, was conducted at Dabbalikatte plantation of the Forest Department in Sakaleshpur taluk on December 5, 2023.

Final rites of Arjuna, the tusker, was conducted at Dabbalikatte plantation of the Forest Department in Sakaleshpur taluk on December 5, 2023. | Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

Hundreds of people bid adieu to Arjuna, the 64-year-old tusker, who was laid to rest at the Forest Department plantation at Dabbalikatte in Yeslur range in Sakaleshpur on Tuesday, December 5. With that, the magnificent era of Arjuna — one of the most popular elephants in the state — has come to an end.

Arjuna died in a fight with a wild tusker during an elephant capture operation in the Yeslur Range of the forest on Monday afternoon. While the other tamed elephants and the staff did succeed in escaping unhurt, Arjuna fought valiantly with the wild tusker, suffering wounds that caused his death.

Mahouts inconsolable

One of the popular tuskers that carried the howdah during Mysuru Dasara celebrations eight times, his death left many elephant lovers saddened. Many people from nearby villages and towns gathered to pay their homage to the tusker.

The mahouts, who looked after the animal for years, were inconsolable. Vinod, Arjuna’s mahout, was weeping and could be seen trying to wake the tusker up, evoking the emotions of the crowd. He was unwilling to believe that Arjuna was no more. Forest officials were struggling hard to hold back tears.

Tusker gets gun salute

The last rites were conducted with traditional rituals and a gun salute. Prahlad Rao, a priest from the Mysuru palace, conducted the rituals. The carcass was garlanded and flower petals were showered on it. As a mark of respect, three rounds were fired in the air. A portion of the land was dug, the carcass was lowered to the pit and was later covered with soil.

Among those present were Hassan DC C. Sathyabhama, Additional Chief Conservator of Forests (Project Elephant) Saswati Mishra, Chief Conservator of Forests R. Ravishankar, SP Mohammed Sujeeth DCF D. Mohan Kumar, and others.

Locals protest

Earlier in the day, locals staged a protest urging Forest Department officers to conduct Arjuna’s final rites at a better place. They also demanded the suspension of officers responsible for the death of the elephant during the operation. The police, however, dispersed the mob.

Sakaleshpur MLA Cement Manju also said a place easily accessible by roads should be chosen for the final rites so that a memorial could be built. Meanwhile, the mahouts wanted the animal to be taken to Balle Camp, the native place of Arjuna, for final rites. However, the Forest Department went ahead with their original plan.

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