BENGALURU: Born free, Ranga, the gentle pachyderm once used to freely traverse from Bannerghatta to Tumakuru — going back and forth without a care. But after his dramatic capture on Sunday, his fate hangs in balance as a decision is yet to be taken on whether to keep him in captivity or not. Surprisingly, his health is good and he does not have any external wounds, say Forest Department officials.
Ranga was captured on Sunday near Savandurga forests in Magadi taluk and relocated to Bannerghatta where he has been kept in a kraal under the care of the Bannerghatta National Park authorities. Majestic and with strong tusks, Ranga was known to traverse on his own, roaming non-traditional paths from Bannerghatta to Tumakuru for eight months while returning home for four months to mate with captive elephants at Bannerghatta.
Presently, forest officials are making efforts to ease his pain and to get him to adjust to a life in captivity.
Bannerghatta National Park DCF Javed Mumtaz told Express, “He is keeping fine. However, he is a bit aggressive and sometimes makes a bid to come out of the kraal. For any exigencies, we brought in Arjuna (camp elephant) on Wednesday to assist us so that he settles down. We need camp elephants to control him as it takes time to adjust to such a life. He is calming down. We expected violence, but there is no such issue.”
Under constant watch
The almost 50-year-old tusker weighs about 6,000-6,500 kg. As far as his health is concerned, Javed said, “Our veterinary doctor Dr Kshama, assisted by Bannerghatta vets, is keeping a vigil 24x7. There are no major external wounds and we have been pampering him. He has been fed green grass, paddy husk and jaggery and no medication is being given as he is a healthy.”
Wildlife activist N Manjunath, who has been monitoring Ranga for a long time, said, “Ranga does not have a single wound and that is a very happy situation. But I feel that to keep such a healthy, majestic animal in a 15x15 feet kraal is not only cruel but also disturbing. As per animal welfare rules, a wild animal that is captured should be released back into the wild. Ranga has never harmed anybody and should be released either in Bandipur or Nagarhole.”
‘He is still aggressive’
A senior forest official said, “Ranga is active, but aggressive and he has to reconcile to a life within the four walls. This is easier said than done for an animal that has led such an active life wandering across forest divisions. He was a born leader and was with a group of nine males and had made Nelamangala and Savandurga his favourite grounds for raiding crops.”