BHUBANESWAR: In a first such instance in the State, the Wildlife Wing authorities on Sunday de-tusked a male elephant from Dhenkanal Forest Division in a bid to curb its aggressive instincts. The jumbo is said to be responsible for killing close to 40 persons in the last seven years.
A seven-day tracking exercise culminated in zeroing in on the pachyderm which had sustained injuries and developed abscess as well as haematoma. A team of over 30 members of elephant forest officers, medical squad and trackers mounted an attempt to sight the elephant on Saturday and managed to carry out the task on Sunday afternoon.
Chief Wildlife Warden Sidhanta Das said, the de-tusking was possible after three doses of tranquilisers. “During sighting, the elephant was found to be limping in the forests. It needed immediate medical intervention lest it could have developed serious infection,” he said. On Sunday, it was tranquilised in the dense forest of Kamaskhyanagar by Dr Indramani Nath of Odisha University if Agriculture and Technology (OUAT).
In male elephants, tusks act as a secondary sexual character and bigger their size, more dominant become the jumbos in a group. Tusks also give them the aura of alpha males and help lure females. Trimmed tusks lead to reduced aggression as males lose that ‘alpha’ quality. Similarly, losing ability to dig tuber and carry load makes them less aggressive. Das said, the Wildlife Wing had consulted experts about the subject before taking the decision.
The action plan was executed by a team led by Dhenkanal DFO Pradip Kumar Sahu. Sighting the elephant was the first major task since tranquilisation was needed for the treatment and de-tusking. The first attempt was launched on Saturday at 7 am and continued for 12 hours. “We could see it but it would vanish in the dense forest in no time. We had to abandon the exercise on Saturday in the evening and resumed the operation on Sunday,” Sahu said.
At about 1 pm, the elephant was sighted and a JCB which was taken inside the forest was used to fire the darts by Dr Nath. After being hit, the elephant ran to a distance of one km after which it came to a halt. Then Nath manually administered the second dose after which the jumbo turned standstill.
“The elephant had haematoma on the left hind leg and there was abscess under right shoulder region. Both the haematoma and abscess were drained out and dressed aseptically. Parenteral antibiotics and anti inflammatory magocidal were administered. Thereafter, de-tusking operation was carried out successfully,” Sahu told this paper.
After the second dose, the left tusk was trimmed but the jumbo became active again. A third dose was given for the second de-tusking. The whole operation was wrapped up by 5.30 pm.
Dhenkanal, part of the Angul Circle, is a critical area for elephants. Growing industrialisation, expanding road network and Rengali Dam have islanded the hapless elephants who have turned their ire on human habitations. In the last 10 years, 88 elephants have died in the region while 98 men have been killed, making it one of the worst man-elephant conflict zones in the State.