The 13-year-old male tusker that was limping around two forest divisions of Odisha, with an unused scooter tyre stuck in its front left leg for over two and half months, finally was relieved of its misery last afternoon after a team of forest officials successfully removed the tyre from its left foot.
Following a three-hour-long chase involving involving over 50 wildlife officials in Subhasi reserve forest of Athagarh forest division, the tusker could be finally transquilised. After the tyre was removed and its wounds treated, the pachydem was released in the wild at around 6.30 pm yesterday.
“It was a huge challenge for us as we had several near-miss situations over the last fortnight. We felt relieved after removing the tyre. The elephant roared in pleasure,” said Arun Kumar Swain, Divisional Forest Officer, Athgarh Forest Division. After tranquilization, the forest officials removed the tyre from its leg.
A team of veterinary experts led by Professor Indramani Nath of Bhubaneswar’s Odisha University of Agriculture then treated the wounded portion of the leg. Though the animals was limping, it would soon be normal, said Nath.
Since last 20 days, the forst officials had perched themselves atop a temporary bamboo structure laying in wait for the animal. Today the forest staff spotted the animal leaving Kharakhola reserve forest towards Subhasi forest, a little less dense and more conducive for carrying out the operation. The tranquilization of the elephant was performed at about 3.40 pm.
The tusker, which was part of a herd in Sukasan area of Athagarh forest division forest had strayed from the herd after its left foot accidentally got caught in a scooter tyre in January, tried its best to get rid of it. The forest and wildlife officials chanched upon it when the elephant was dipping its feet in nearby canal for a longer period to relieve itself of the pain.
On January 24 this year, the Athagarh division forest officials had come within striking distance of firing the transquliser dart when the elephant suddenly charged at them a seriously injured a forest guard. Forest guard Pramod Nayak was badly injured after the tusker, suddenly leapt towards him and tossed him around. Nayak had to spend a day in hospital.
With the tyre stll stuck and badly limping the jumbo crossed over to Chandaka-Dompada wildlife sanctuary on the outskirts of Bhubaneswar a month ago stomping over 10-12 km, but it still continues to play hide-and-seek with the dozen-odd forest officials, tribal trackers and transquilising specialists. With the tusker playing hard-to-get, the team decided to wait for the full moon night of Holi for better visbility. No too long ago, the elephant was part of a herd in Chandaka.
But before the forest officials could tranquilise the tusker on March 12 taking advantage of the fullmooon night, the elephant last night crossed over to Athgarh forest division passing through Mahanadi river. The Athgarh forest division is about 10-12 km away.