Odisha Sun Times Bureau
Bhubaneswar, Aug 12:
On the occasion of ‘World Elephant Day’, all the elephants of Odisha’s Nandankanan zoo and other elephants of Chandka-Damapada elephant sanctuary are being pampered, but not Shankar.
Two and half years after it killed its last mahout Dillip Rava, elephant Shankar is still roaming around Kumarkhunti jungle of Chandaka Elephant Sanctuary all alone. Even though he is allowed to roam around in Kumarkhunti jungle these days, the chains have not yet been taken off his feet.
Shankar, who has killed three of his mahouts so far, has been on exile in this jungle since November 9, 2012 after he killed his last mahout Rava. He had earlier killed his mahout at Satakoshia Jungle in 2009 and then again in 2010 at Telkoi of Keonjhar.
He had been brought to Godibari of Chandaka to be trained as a Kunki along with Nanda and Yasoda after he killed his mahout in 2010. But Rava fell prey to an aroused Shankar again. Such was the pachyderm’s anger that he crushed the mahout under his feet and guarded the dead body for a long time before he was tranquilised.
While there has been a huge change in his attitude over these years in exile, his future remains uncertain.
He leaves his rest shed at about 8 AM in the morning after the caretakers give him food and roams in the jungle till about 3 PM until he feels hungry again. He comes back to the shed in the afternoon where he is chained and served food.
“Shankar has calmed down a lot. The wild instincts are no more there. But the chances of bringing him back to Godibari again are slim,” said Chandka Forest Ranger Phanindra Bhusan Nanda.
The Nandankanan zoo authorities, however, are celebrating World Elephant Day with great fanfare today.
“We have been celebrating World Elephant Day on this day since 2012. Special arrangements are made on this day for the elephants of the zoo. All eight elephants of the zoo were bathed and well decorated today and we fed them fruits of their choice such as banana, coconuts, water melons, sugarcane etc. This day serves as a reminder to educate people about the man-animal bonding,” said Sudarshan Panda, Director or Nandankanan Biological Park.
“This is an opportunity for us to educate people on minimizing man-animal conflict. The government is already taking steps to minimize accidents near railway tracks and other places. We are also taking various steps to protect them. We need to work on building natural habitats for the elephants. That is when the elephant population will increase naturally,” said Principal Chief Conservator of Forest (PCCF) Wildlife SS Srivastav.
World Elephant Day is an international annual event on August 12, dedicated to the preservation and protection of the world’s elephants.
Conceived in 2011 by Canadian filmmakers Patricia Sims and Michael Clark of Canazwest Pictures and Sivaporn Dardarananda, Secretary-General of the Elephant Reintroduction Foundation in Thailand, it was officially founded, supported and launched by Patricia Sims and the Elephant Reintroduction Foundation on August 12, 2012.
Since that time, Patricia Sims continues to direct World Elephant Day, which is now supported by over 65 wildlife organizations and many individuals in countries across the globe.