A 45-year-old wild elephant — blind, lost and crippled by a leg injury — has entrenched itself in a dam around 30 km from Bengaluru, and has become the focus of local villagers amid an effort by forest authorities to rehabilitate him. The elephant drifted into the dam some 40 days ago.
Affectionately named Sidda by forest authorities, the tusker broke its front right leg and now spends much of its time floating in the backwaters of Manchanabele dam.
The Karnataka forest department officials have decided to summon veterinary doctors from Chennai, Guwahati and Thiruvananthapuram to look at Sidda and find a way to rescue him and take him to Bannerghatta National Park on the outskirts of Bengaluru.
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Since Sidda first appeared in the backwaters near Avverahalli village, triggering panic among locals, veterinary doctors of state forest department have tried to administer him antibiotics and painkillers by mixing them with food. Forest guards deployed at the dam have been feeding him sugarcane, maize, bananas and ragi or millet balls, which the elephant has been relishing. But, when the same food is laced with medicines, Sidda refuses to eat it.
An expert committee headed by Karnataka’s Chief Wildlife Warden has been constituted to look into Sidda’s treatment and rehabilitation. The committee visited the dam over the weekend. “The condition of the injured elephant has not deteriorated. Four veterinary experts from Chennai, Guwahati and Kerala will visit the dam next week,” said Dr D Manjunath, Deputy Conservator of Forest, Ramanagara district.
Locals have, meanwhile, been demanding speedy relocation of the animal. According to them, Sidda drifted into the dam after he fell into a ditch near Dodderi village while traversing a migratory path from Savanadurga forest area to the Bannerghatta National Park region.
“The elephant keeps drifting towards our village at night and pushed down a jackfruit tree on Friday night. It also stomped through our ragi crops. Forest officials must shift it and provide better treatment,” K Rajanna, a resident of Avverahalli village, said. Sidda is almost completely blind and had been bumping into trees and walls before it broke its leg, said M Narasimhaiah of Abbuguli village.
A guard from forest department said the elephant was named Sidda by mahouts from Bannerghatta National Park. Since landing at the dam, locals have named him “Mudde Sidda” on account of his fondness for ragi balls, known in Kannada as ragi mudde.