Report sought on captive elephant death
The Latehar district administration in Jharkhand has asked officials of the Palamau Tiger Reserve under Betla National Park to submit a report at the earliest on the lapses that led to the killing of a captive 40-year-old male elephant by two wild tuskers.
This was the first such incident of a captive elephant being killed by wild tuskers and that too in the presence of a large number of forest guards.
Latehar deputy commissioner Abu Imran shot off a letter on Wednesday to deputy director of the north division of the tiger reserve, Kumar Ashish, on reasons for shifting the captive elephant to the Palamau Fort and what steps had been taken by the forest officials to safeguard the animal.
“The forest officials had not reported anything to me about Monday night’s incident. However, after going through media reports and The Telegraph report I came to know about certain lapses. I also saw the central government guidelines (issued by Union ministry of environment and forests in 2008) for care and management of captive elephants as part of Project Elephant. I have asked them to furnish a report on the reason for shifting the elephant to that particular location, the steps taken to safeguard the animal and whether they followed all the guidelines issued by the central government,” said Imran, a 2010-batch IAS officer.
The male elephant named Kal Bhairav was gored to death by two wild tuskers at Palamau Fort late on Monday night in the presence of nearly 10 forest guards who could only shout and burst crackers in their efforts to ward them off. The wild tuskers continued attacking the captive elephant and finally broke his chains and took him nearly 200 metres away from the shed.
he entire incident lasted for over an hour with the captive elephant receiving multiple external injuries (over 25) and his intestines being punctured by the wild tuskers.
Forest officials, however, claimed that they are yet to receive any letter from the deputy commissioner. “We are yet to receive any such letter from the deputy commissioner so far,” said Kumar.
Five captive elephants were kept at the Palamau Fort, which is a major tourist attraction. The forest department had constructed three watch towers with halogen lights all around and a provision for 24x7 forest guards in such a manner that 10 of them are on duty at any point of time.
Kal Bhairav was among the three captive elephants rescued and brought to the Betla National Park from Mysore in Karnataka in 2018 and was the lone male among them.
Wildlife conservationist and secretary of the Nature Conservation Society, D.S. Srivastava, who has been studying elephant and tiger behaviour in the Palamau and Latehar regions for over three decades, had blamed the forest officials for the incident.
“Firstly, forest officials should not have kept the captive elephants at Palamau Fort which is in a dense forest and there is always a danger of attack from wild elephants. Secondly, they should have constructed a deep trench all around the shed to prevent wild elephants from coming closer to the captive ones. Thirdly, they should have provided tranquilliser guns to the forest guards as bursting crackers and shouting is not going to be of much help to ward off tuskers when they become aggressive,” said Srivastava.