Foresters of Jaldapara National Park in Alipurduar managed to catch Sundar, the pet elephant that killed its mahout while being in musth and fled in the wild, on Tuesday after consistent efforts of 10 days.
Since November 25, foresters, along with pet elephants, had been in search of Sundar. On Sunday, the department engaged 16 pet elephants to trace the “truant” elephant. They spotted it but it escaped before they could tranquillise it.
On Monday evening, Sundar came near “pilkhana,” (the enclosure of pet elephants) in Jaldapara east range. The mahouts and patawalas present there identified it.
They informed foresters and stacked ample fodder for the elephant so that it stayed. Forest employees kept an eye on it.
Around 4am on Tuesday, a team of foresters prepared to tranquillise Sundar. After some time, as the elephant started moving towards Chilapata, foresters on eight pet elephants followed it.
Around 6.30am, they shot the first dart but it could only partially tranquillise the elephant who started running towards Chilapata and crossed the Siltorsha river that passes through the national park area. The foresters followed it and around 9.30am, they got a clear aim. This time, Sundar was tranquillised successfully.
Escorted by other pet elephants, it was brought to the enclosure and put in isolation. Its legs have been fastened with chains to prevent it from escaping again.
“We have finally succeeded. For the next month, the pet elephant will not be engaged in any work of the park and be under the observation of vets,” said Navojit Dey, the assistant wildlife warden of Jaldapara National Park.
On November 24, the male pet elephant of the forest department ran into the wild when its patawala or mahout’s assistant, who usually arranges fodder for pet elephants, had taken it for a bath.
The next day, November 25, some foresters spotted the elephant, in musth (a periodic condition in male elephants characterised by aggression and sexual behaviour), and informed the mahout and the patawala.
Agitated during musth, the elephant attacked the duo when they neared it. Bapi Barman, the patawala, managed to save himself and run away. Deepak Karjee, the mahout, was trampled to death. The elephant had then fled into the wild.