Odisha Sun Times Bureau
Baripada, Nov 20:
A joint team of forest, fire brigade and police personnel managed to rescue the tusker, which had fallen into a ditch near Dhobatola village under Dukra range of Baripada forest division in Mayurbhanj district of Odisha on Tuesday night, late on Thursday afternoon after a marathon, two-day operation that was aptly named ‘Operation Gajaraj’.
The tusker was first sedated with tranquilisers and then lifted out of the dry well it had fallen into with the help of a crane. The entire operation was supervised by Dr Abhijeet Balawa, an elephant expert from the Wildlife Trust of India (WTI), whose services were specially requistioned for the purpose. Assitant Conservator of Forests (ACF) Arun Patra conducted the operation on the ground.
The tusker was shifted to Baripada for treatment soon after being taken out of the abandoned dug well. “Since it had gone without food and water for two full days, it had become very weak by the time it was taken out from the ditch. It is being treated at the veterinary hospital,” divisional forest officer (DFO) Sanjay Swain said. “It will be released into the elephant sanctuary in Similipal after it recovers fully,” he added.
Experts in animal medicine have been rushed from Bhubaneswar to nurse it back to health, sources in the Forest department said.
Rescue efforts had to be abandoned after nearly ten hours of unsuccessful back breaking work on Wednesday when visibility became poor in the evening.
Rescue efforts were also affected when a JCB machine hired to excavate earth to make a ramp to the base of the well for the animal to move out conked out yesterday. A replacement JCB was brought in, but it did not make much headway either because of the rocky terrain.
Local people, who had perched themselves atop machans on tree tops to keep a vigil on the movement of elephants damaging their crops, had seen a herd of 20 elephants moving in the paddy fields on Tuesday night.
One from the herd, which happened to be a tusker, fell into an abandoned well while it was passing through the fields. The tusker could not come out of the 25-30 feet deep ditch despite making desperate efforts, the locals said.
As news spread Forest, fire brigade personnel and police rushed to the spot and began their rescue action code named ‘Operation Gajaraj’ on Wwednesday, which bore fruit today.