The elephant being kept in custody of the Nagaland forest department. Telegraph picture
Jorhat, Nov. 23: The Nagaland forest department has “arrested” a domestic elephant, believed to be from Assam, for allegedly destroying large patches of crop land and bamboo groves in a village in Peren district, bordering Assam.
“The elephant is in safe custody. We have engaged a few persons to look after it till the owner shows up and claims it by producing proper documents,’ Mokok Jamir, a forest official in Peren district, told The Telegraph over phone today.
This is probably the first time that an elephant has been booked by the forest department in the region. Jamir said the female elephant had strayed to Mhainamtsi village, about 5km from Jalukie town in Nagaland.
“The elephant has destroyed vast patches of crop land, fruit trees and bamboo groves in the village. We managed to capture the elephant after hiring two trained mahouts from Assam a couple of days back,” the forest official said.
Jamir said in all possibility the elephant had crossed over from Assam since Dimapur, which has a few domestic elephants, is quite far and there are steep hills to be crossed. “It is unlikely that the elephant has come from Dimapur as the place where it was found is nearer to Assam,” he added.
The elephant had showed up at Mhainamtsi around two weeks ago. The villagers thought it was a wild one. “When the elephant did not leave for about two days and continued to devour crops and fruits, the villagers informed us,” Jamir said.
The forest official said it took them almost a week to determine whether the elephant was a domestic one as there were no experts in the department to deal with wildlife.
“We monitored the elephant for about a week and finally arrived at the conclusion that it was a domestic one after we noticed a small piece of chain tied to one of its front legs,” Jamir said.
But the problem did not end there.
As there were no experts to deal with the elephant, the forest department had to look for elephant handlers to deal with the animal.
The forest official said it was a tough task for the forest department and the district administration personnel to control the angry villagers who wanted to shoot the elephant.
D. Abraham, a social worker from Jalukie town, said he knew a few people in Assam who dealt with elephants. He used his contacts to hire two mahouts who arrived after a week and captured the elephant immediately.
The elephant is at present being kept in Jalukie village, near Jalukie town.
Abraham, who is also the vice-president of the Nagaland People’s Front, said he has been using his contacts in Assam to spread the news about the elephant so that the owner can claim it. “The owner has to pay for the damages the animal has caused to the villagers,” he added.