A sick elephant was treated back to health by forest personnel in Jhargram last week.
Usually, big animals like elephants have to be tranquillised before they can be treated. But in this case, the pachyderm was not darted. It was instead given medicine-laced food, said forest officials.
On September 3, a herd of elephants was moving from the Lodhashuli range to the Manikpara range in the Jhargram forest division. One elephant in the herd, an adult male, was limping.
The elephant was seen limping in a clip shared on the forest department’s social media handles. The front right leg was hardly touching the ground.
“The elephant was literally walking on the three remaining legs. It looked like the animal was in a lot of pain,” said a forest official.
As the herd moved towards the Kalaikunda range in the neighbouring Kharagpur division, the injured elephant was left behind.
It was then that a team led by Pankaj Suryavanshi, the divisional forest officer of Jhargram division, reached the spot.
“On the first day, we gave bananas to the elephant. We wanted to see if it was willing to eat. The next morning, the elephant was given bananas again. But this time, the fruits were laced with antibiotics and anti-inflammatory medicines,” said the DFO.
Although limping, the jumbo had reached the Kalaikunda range of the Kharagpur division when it was given the medicine-laced fruits.
For the next couple of days, it was constantly monitored by elephant trackers and members of the hulah party.
On the evening of September 7, it came back to Manikpara range near Borashuli village, where it was first spotted in pain.
On September 8 morning, it was spotted at another beat called Kusumghati in the same range. The same afternoon, the elephant was spotted walking on the road between two forests. “It was walking almost normally. There was hardly any limping,” said Suryavanshi.
Forest officials said the treatment without tranquillisation could be a template for the future.
“Darting a big animal is always risky. There can be multiple complications. Not to speak of the elaborate procedure that has to be followed before tranquillisation. It is always better if a sick animal can be treated without being darted. We recently treated an elephant in north Bengal in the same way,” said Debal Ray, chief wildlife warden of Bengal.
An elephant that was tranquillised by foresters in Jhargram on the morning of July 1 died within hours of being taken to the zoological park of the Jungle Mahal town. The elephant had allegedly killed several persons in the days before, prompting the forest department to go for darting.