Foresters of Jaldapara National Park in Alipurduar are facing the challenge of capturing the pet elephant that killed its mahout last week and fled into the wild.
On November 24, Sundar, a male pet elephant of the state forest department in musth — a periodic condition of male elephants characterised by heightened aggression and sexual behaviour — escaped into the wild after a bath. On November 25, foresters found it and informed its mahout Deepak Karjee and patawala (fodder arranger) Bapi Barman. When the duo reached the spot and tried to get closer to the elephant, it attacked Bapi who managed to escape and charged at Deepak, trampling him to death. It then ran into the wild.
Since then, foresters have been trying to locate and tranquillise the elephant, which is still believed to be in musth, and bring it back to the pet elephant enclosure.
On Sunday, a team of foresters, along with 16 pet elephants, went on an expedition to locate Sundar. They went to core areas of the national park, the largest habitat of one-horned rhinos in Bengal, in search of the “truant” elephant.
The search, which started at 6am, yielded results at 12.30pm when they located Sundar near Kunjanagar of the park.
However, a forest official said that before it could be tranquillised, it walked away.
On Saturday, Sundar was seen in Bengdaki, 4km from Kunjanagar.
“It is evident that the elephant is roaming around. We have to draw up new plans to bring it back,” said Navojit Dey, assistant wildlife warden of Jaldapara park.