|Forest employees attend to the kunki at Holong on Sunday. Picture by Anirban Choudhury
Alipurduar, July 12: A crane was hired to treat a kunki (trained elephant) whose hind leg had been giving it trouble for sometime. The animal has stood up once again and its condition has improved, thanks to the crane, foresters said.
Shakuntala, the kunki in Holong pilkhana of Jaldapara Wildlife Sanctuary, had a swelling on its hind left leg. It often limped around and moved on three legs. The kunki had another problem: it would flee to the forest frequently and other pet elephants had to be used to bring it back.
On Friday, the forest employees noticed that the animal’s front right leg, too, had swelled. The same night Shakuntala fell to the ground and could not stand up. Yesterday morning, Ranjan Talukdar, the in-charge of the Holong range, tried to make Shakuntala stand with the help of the other kunkis, but could not. “Elephants should not be allowed to sit for long because their lungs may collapse from their own weight. So we had to make Shakuntala stand somehow. Then we hit upon the idea of a crane,” said Proloy Mandal, the vet of Jaldapara.
The crane was hired from Hasimara, 20km from here. Around 6pm yesterday, as the crane held up the 3-tonne elephant, a large number of cushions were arranged below its belly. For 13 hours the elephant was kept in the same position — its body resting against the mattress from 6pm yesterday to 7am today — and calcium and vitamins administered intravenously. Thirty bottles of saline, too, were given. After the crane was detached this morning, the elephant could stand on its own. Today, it also ate some grass, though slowly. Yesterday it had been kept on a diet of khichri.
Omprakash, the divisional forest officer of Wildlife III, said: “Shakuntala seems to have responded to the treatment. We rarely use cranes, but we have been successful this time.”
Elephant shot dead
An elephant is suspected to have been shot dead at Bamandangi in Nepal on Saturday evening, reports our Siliguri correspondent. Forest officers of Darjeeling and Kurseong said the body of the male elephant was found in the forest of the neighbouring country.
“The body was spotted at Sunnychowk, located 3km from the border,” an officer of the Darjeeling forest division (wildlife-I) said.
According to the foresters, a herd of about 30 elephants was roaming in the Kalabari forest under Kurseong forest division, over the past couple of days. The herd frequently entered the adjacent Bamondangi forest and the deceased animal was perhaps one in the group that crossed the border last night.
Describing the incident as an “inhuman act”, Bengal forest minister Ananta Roy said: “I am going to refer the incident to the chief minister so that he recommends intervention of the central government.”