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Sunder not ready to board truck, given rest for three days

Fruits and jaggery have failed to lure the elephant so far, vets and forest officials to resume exercise after three days

Written by Anjali Lukose | Mumbai | Updated: June 4, 2014 8:41 am
sundar-main Sunder plays with mahout Hyder on Tuesday. (Express photo by Deepak Joshi)

After spending two days trying to unsuccessfully lure Sunder, a wounded elephant, into a specialised truck to take him to the rehabilitation centre in Bangalore, the Kolhapur forest division has decided to let the reluctant animal rest for two to three days before the next attempt.

To help Sunder get into the truck, officials have dug a ditch and lowered the back end of the vehicle to allow the pachyderm to climb on to it through a special downward-sloping ramp. For the last two days, veterinary experts from Kerala as well as forest officials have been trying to entice Sunder into climbing on to the truck by placing bananas, jackfruits, pineapples, sugarcanes and some jaggery inside.

On one occasion, Sunder outwitted the officials by moving all the hay used to camouflage the metallic ramp. Feeling the hot metal underneath, it retreated from the ramp. On Monday evening, sudden rain and lightning and the resultant power-cut made the officials abort the mission.

“The elephant is not ready to board the truck and we cannot force it. We just have to be patient,” said Vijay Shelke, Deputy Conservator of Forests.

The veterinarians and experts from Kerala, who were especially invited to accompany Sunder from Kolhapur to Bangalore, however, beg to differ. They opine that Sunder should be chemically immobilised before trying to get him into the truck, a practice they claim is common while dealing with elephants.

“We are against sedating the animal after our research revealed that sometimes animals not sedated properly tend to get aggressive and hurt themselves or others around. If something happens to Sunder, who will be responsible,” asked Dipak Jadhav, a local animal lover.

The large crowd and the vocal opposition from local animal lovers, mahout and onlookers to using sedative have put the forest department on the back foot.
Despite the vets’ strong recommendation to use mild sedation, the forest department has not even sought permission from the chief wildlife warden to use this method.

“We want to follow the protocol for elephant transfers that mentions the animal should be habitualised to the vehicle and not rushed into it. Right now, Sunder is scared of the sound of the truck and is not accepting the barricades. We cannot be sure that sedation won’t cause him shock or affect him adversely. We want to use a safe method versus a hasty, risky method,” said M K Rao, Chief Conservator of Forests, Kolhapur. “We have mentioned that the vets are suggesting sedating the animal in our report to the principal chief conservator of forests at Nagpur.”

The vets, in their official report, also stressed on the need to allow only government officials, the elephant squad and the mahout (if he is cooperating with the team members) to be present at the site as the large and heckling crowd was inhibiting operations.

The mahout, Hyder Mahat (22), said he was doing his best to encourage the elephant to enter the truck, but has suggested that the animal itself could sense something is amiss and does not want to leave.

The forest officials are rushing against time as the Supreme Court had on May 29 upheld the Bombay High Court’s judgment ordering Sunder’s release by June 15. They have to factor in the approaching monsoon too.

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  1. J
    Jody Stickney
    Jun 4, 2014 at 4:13 pm
    Sunder plays with mahout Hyder on Tuesday. (Express photo by Deepak Joshi)Fully restrained and biting the wall. Playing?
    1. R
      Jun 5, 2014 at 10:25 am
      Hyder Mahat is the one who has been beating and torturing this poor creature. They are crazy to let him get in 2 feet of Sunder. Mahat is a ic man and is only acting out the part for attention. These so-called officials are stalling. They should let the vets do what they have EXPERIENCE in and get that animal away from that horrible place.
      1. D
        Jun 6, 2014 at 8:24 pm
        In first paragraph, "decided to let the 'RELUCTANT ANIMAL'" rest for two to three days before next attempt. Hmmmmm........let's examine this -- There are MANY REASONS FOR THIS BEAUTIFUL ANIMAL TO BE RELUCTANT!!!!!!! You people have ed with this amazing elephant's mind, it's no wonder why he cannot trust ANYONE! (((((Sunder))))), this amazing & beautiful elephant, YOU have continually tortured AND beaten him --- YOU continue to keep him CHAINED & TIED.I wonder is Sunder will ever TRULY believe he is free??? I continue praying to GOD that you release him - the sooner the better!As for "the mahout" - Hyder Mahat --- ARE YOU REALLY DOING YOUR BEST TO ENCOURAGE (((((Sunder))))) TO ENTER THE TRUCK???? Your suggestion that "the animal itself could sense something is amiss and does not want to leave." ARE YOU LYING, mahout HYDER??????Seems to me that you've enjo torturing this beautiful animal all along -- YOU CANNOT POSSIBLY HAVE (((((Sunder's))))) BEST INTEREST AT HEART!!!!And, the caption under (((((Sunder's))))) picture is laughable- "Sunder plays with mahout Hyder on Tuesday".IS (((((Sunder))))) REALLY PLAYING?????? Let's be real. To me, he looks ED OFF, ANGRY & FRUSTRATED (it's no wonder why!!!), who would most likely want to stomp all over you - and, WHO COULD BLAME HIM? Not me, and not the millions of people who are watching this unfold.YOU MUST COMPLY WITH THE HIGH COURT'S JUDGEMENT ORDERING (((((SUNDER'S))))) RELEASE BY JUNE 15TH!!! The crowd MUST CLEAR, whistles & people MUST BE SILENCED to make this poor stressed out animal calm down.As for the crowds of people who are not helping this situation, please DO WHAT YOU NEED TO DO -- THEY MUST BE DETAINED!The w world IS WATCHING ALL OF YOU and we ARE NOT IMPRESSED. YOU WILL ALL BE HELD ACCOUNTABLE.Do the right thing and release (((((Sunder))))) - NOW, before it's too late!
        1. E
          Jun 4, 2014 at 8:30 pm
          Shame on you for writing and publishing a fraudulent article. The world is watching those who continue to inflict harm on Sunder and impede his transfer. Those responsible of such actions are making a mockery of India's Laws and the Supreme Court's Order and should be punished to the highest degree allowable.Much strength to Sunder and those who have his best interest at heart. Praying that the Supreme Court's Order is implemented immediately.
          1. P
            Priya Davda
            Jun 4, 2014 at 10:25 am
            As if the demon abuser haydr was trying to encourage Sunder to board the truck, there's video evidence of him pulling Sunder, pulling his ear and shouting at him!. This guy is seriously mentally ill
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