GUWAHATI, May 4 – In what exemplifies callousness and insensitivity of the Forest Department, a grievously-injured adult female elephant which collapsed near a house at village Nahorsola in Karbi Anglog district in the wee hours on Tuesday, was left unattended for a long time.
The pachyderm had virtually entered the household of N Limbu, a resident of Nahorsola near Bogijan beat area of Silonijan range. Limbu narrowly escaped unhurt but the animal suddenly collapsed on the veranda of the house and has since been lying motionless.
The veterinary surgeon of Wildlife Trust of India (WTI) was later called in to help, and since the second morning, two elephant veterinarians from WTI and Centre for Wildlife Rehabilitation and Conservation (CWRC), Kaziranga, have been treating the animal.
The attending veterinarians have not yet been able to ascertain the cause of the paralysis affecting the hind quarters of the animal. It was said to be in a very critical condition.
“Apparently, the elephant is suffering from posterior paralysis but we have not been able to ascertain the exact cause of the ailment. It is being treated with anti-dotes and saline but is not responding. A spear wound is also there but that does not appear debilitating,” an attending veterinarian said.
A local resident said that the Forest Department was intimated immediately but neither the range officer nor the DFO visited the animal till the afternoon of Thursday (May 3). “Only the beat officer came to see it,” he added.
The situation brings to the fore the growing hostility between man and elephant, as the paralysed elephant was seen beaten up with sticks and abusing it. It also coincides with the lax approach of the Forest Department in responding to animals in distress.
“This is disturbing because normally people are very compassionate about such cases, but on this particular instance, the villagers who came in to see the elephant actually beat it up with sticks and abused the dying animal,” Bhaskar Choudhury of WTI said.
Conservationists believe that the incident should not be viewed in isolation; rather it testifies to the growing brutal retaliation by man to wildlife – especially elephants and leopards – against the backdrop of an intensifying man-animal conflict.
“This is just another case of retaliation which has been happening in and around Assam with alarming regularity even as we keep proclaiming the elephant as a heritage animal. It is time the Forest Department and the NGOs initiated some holistic intervention to check this disturbing trend. Long term measures apart, sensitising the people and facilitating timely ex-gratia for losses arising out of animal depredation are an urgent need,” a wildlife activist said.