Wild elephant caught in fishing nets rescued

A rescue team (top) approaching the elephant (below) stranded in Nugu reservoir on Tuesday.   | Photo Credit: By Special Arrangements

A wild tusker stranded in Nugu reservoir, close to Bandipur, with its legs entangled in fishing nets, was rescued by Forest Department personnel on Tuesday.

The elephant was first sighted around 6 a.m. in the reservoir. Initially it did not receive much attention as the movement and presence of elephants in the Nugu reservoir and surrounding areas, which constitute the buffer zone to Bandipur Tiger Reserve, was common.

However, locals began suspecting that something was amiss when they realised that the elephant appeared to be stranded for a long time. Forest personnel and teams from Bandipur, Sargur, and Nugu areas reached the spot along with a unit of the Special Tiger Protection Force.

They pressed a motorboat into service to get a close view of the jumbo and found that it was not moving despite the disturbance caused by their presence. “The elephant was in the same spot for almost three hours and was not moving, which was unusual and reinforced our suspicion of it being trapped by fishing nets,” said a forest official. S.R. Natesh, director, Bandipur Tiger Reserve, said the rescue team used bamboo and hooks to sweep the area to remove any net in the vicinity to free the jumbo’s legs.

The operation lasted nearly five hours and the tusker swam to the shore of the reservoir and heaved itself out of the water before walking back into the forest.

Experts said this was a tricky situation as any rescue operation entailing an animal in water, especially elephants, was fraught with risk for the animal as well as the rescue personnel. Furthermore, tranquillisers cannot be used in such situations.

Fishing in the backwaters abutting national parks and wildlife sanctuary poses a risk to animals and birds, which can get entangled in the nets. “This is a problematic issue as the dams came earlier and notification declaring some of the forests as national parks and tiger reserves came much latter. Hence, the Irrigation Department continues to have jurisdiction over the reservoirs and is vested with the right to award contract for fishing. But no steps have been taken to regulate fishing in forest peripheries,” a source said.

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Printable version | Mar 8, 2021 3:50:41 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/karnataka/wild-elephant-caught-in-fishing-nets-rescued/article33612305.ece

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