A limping tusker was spotted by foresters inside Buxa Tiger Reserve (BTR) in Alipurduar in the first week of November.
On Saturday, the jumbo was tranquilised before a forest team led by a vet treated an injury and infection in his right front leg for close to 90 minutes. The treatment worked, said forest officials.
“The elephant has shown clear signs of improvement. It is now walking much more comfortably than it was a day ago,” said Apurba Sen, field director of Buxa Tiger Reserve in Alipurduar.
The lone tusker, aged between 30 and 35 years, was spotted around 10 days ago near the border of Rajabhatkhawa and Jayanti ranges of BTR. “It was limping and seemed to be in a lot of pain,” said a forest official.
For the next few days, it was monitored continuously. “It was suffering from a wound in the lower portion of the right front leg. The nails of the leg were infected and bleeding,” said the official.
The jumbo was darted near the 23rd watchtower around 11am. Since it was not part of a herd, the team was spared the trouble of isolating the elephant.
“The treatment started after the drug took effect. The wound was cleaned and dressed. The dead and decaying tissues were removed. The vet injected antibiotics and painkillers. An antibiotic ointment was applied before the wound was dressed,” said the official.
The procedure took more than 90 minutes. The tranquilising drug was effective for 10 more minutes, after which the elephant gradually came to and disappeared into the wild.
“We have been tracking the elephant after surgery. The condition is improving gradually,” said Sen, the field director.
Usually, big animals like elephants have to be tranquilised before they can be treated. But in September this year, a sick elephant was treated back to health without tranquilisation by forest personnel in Jhargram.
That adult male was also suffering from a leg injury and was limping. It was part of a herd. As the herd kept moving, the elephant was left behind because of the injury.
The jumbo was given fruits laced wit antibiotics and anti-inflammatory medicines.
On November 3, four persons died in elephant attacks in Cooch Behar as a herd of six jumbos moved around after straying from the Jaldapara Wildlife Sanctuary,
60km away, in Alipurduar district.
One of the elephants, who forest officials said was behind more than one death, was also tranquilised and relocated to BTR. “It was released in Buxa on November 4,” said Sen.
BTR is now home to around 250 elephants, he said.