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Captured PT-7 has bullet wounds on its body

January 23, 2023 09:53 pm | Updated January 26, 2023 10:12 am IST - PALAKKAD

Palakkad Tusker-7, rechristened Dhoni, at its kraal at Dhoni forest camp near Palakkad.

Palakkad Tusker-7, rechristened Dhoni, at its kraal at Dhoni forest camp near Palakkad.

Palakkad Tusker-7 (PT-7), a wild elephant captured by the Forest Department on Sunday after it continually ravaged the farmlands of Dhoni and neighbouring areas for about two years, has several bullet wounds on its body.

The tusker that had become a terror of Dhoni, Akathethara, Puthuppariyaram, Malampuzha and Mundur might have been shot at by the people when it raided their farmlands. However, none of the shots could inflict a serious wound on PT-7.

A team of veterinarians led by Chief Forest Veterinary Officer Arun Zacharia examined the tusker on Monday and monitored its behavior in captivity. “Apart from a wound caused by one of the three kumkis when they pushed the tusker into the lorry first and into the kraal later, it had several bullet injuries. But its sensitive areas were spared,” said Dr. Zachariah.

Veterinarians Arun Sathian from Kozhikode, Sibi from Kollam and Shyam from Konni were in the team that led the darting operation on Sunday and examined the tusker on Monday. The team said the elephant, which was christened Dhoni by Forest Minister A.K. Sasindaran, was in musth, a periodic condition in male elephants characterised by aggressive behaviour and accompanied by a rise in reproductive hormones.

 “Testosterone levels in it must be many times greater in musth than in normal time,” said Dr. Zachariah.

But the anesthetic drug xylazine, which was used together with ketamine to tranquilize PT-7 on Sunday, is likely to end its musth faster than usual. Dr. Zachariah said that musth could end in a week or so.

He said Dhoni was great tusker with immense potential to become a wonderful kumki. Though not so huge, Dhoni is robust, powerful and calm. It did not agitate inside the kraal when it came out of sedation. It responded positively to its early feeds of grass. “All those signs are positive,” said Dr. Zachariah.

An expert mahout will be in charge of Dhoni for the next couple of weeks before it is given training to become a kumki. “The man will begin touching the elephant with some plant or grass at first, because touch is very important in the taming of a wild animal. Feeding will be done only by him. The elephant will get accustomed to him soon,” said Dr. Zachariah.

Two of the three kumkis used to capture Dhoni too had a similar history of aggression and rampaging. Bharatan had terrorized Wayanad’s Kallur village but was caught in 2016. Vikram too was caught in 2019 after it repeatedly went on rampage at Vadakanad, Wayanad.

Surendran, one of the tallest kumkis in Kerala, was brought to the Konni elephant camp when it was one year old in 1999. The bull has grown up to become one of the most sought-after kumkis in the State.

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