Wildlife Vets Come Under Fire In Karnataka Over Wild Animal Deaths Back To Back

Bengaluru: Recently, a leopard died in Bengaluru city during its rescue operation conducted by forest officials and the death of the leopard was attributed to 'inexperienced' veterinarians handling of the situation. The leopard was shot dead during the rescue operation.

Again, similar allegations of mishandling of situation have been made against wild vets after two elephants have died during elephant capture operations undertaken by forest officials in Hassan and Chikkamagaluru districts of Karnataka in a span of three-days (on Saturday and another of Monday). Following the deaths, wild life enthusiasts doubt the efficiency of the personnel especially wildlife vets in conducting jumbo capture operations and question whether Standard Operating Procedures were followed by the forest personnel in jumbo capture operations.

A wild jumbo died during its capture operation in Chikkamagaluru on Saturday late night while a tamed elephant Arjuna lost its life after he was attacked by wild tuskers during an elephant capture operation in Yasalur range of Hassan on Monday. Hassan is a chronic man-elephant conflict region in Karnataka.

In an elephant capture operation in Mudigere taluk of Chikkamagalauru on Saturday, a wild tusker aged about 40 years died after the animal was darted by wildlife vets engaged in its capture operation. Wildlife enthusiasts allege that the capture operation was conducted in late evening on Saturday while as per the protocol capture operations should be held in daylight and after the jumbo was darted in the dark, forest personnel could not track the sedated jumbo on time which led to its death.

“Usually, jumbo capture operations are held during the day time and it becomes easy for the personnel to track the jumbo after its darted. But, here the operations were conducted late evening,” a wildlife conservationist of Chikkamagaluru questioned “What was the need to dart in the dark?.”

Explaining the reason for darting the jumbo in the cover of darkness, Deputy Conservator of Forests, Chikkamagaluru Ramesh Babu told Deccan Chronicle on Tuesday that forest personnel waited to sedate a wild jumbo identified as a trouble-maker in Mudigere region and as the jumbo could not be sighted in the day. When it was sighted, it was dark and forest officials thought it was the right moment to dart it.

Ramesh Babu stated that after the jumbo was darted, the animal fell and its head hit a tree and its trunk also got injured which made it difficult for the jumbo to breathe and succumbed to its internal injuries.

In another death of a jumbo during capture operation, Arjuna, a famed elephant which carried golden howdah during Mysuru Dasara jumbo savari for eight times, came in for attack from a wild jumbo during elephant capture operation conducted in Yasalur range of Hassan district on Monday leading to its death.

Wildlife conservationists pointed out that Arjuna was aged 64 years and tamed elephants after 60 years are retired and rested in elephant camps. They questioned the rationale of the forest officials to press aged Arjuna into elephant capture operation.

However, a press release from Hassan Deputy Conservator of Forests Mohan Kumar stated that a wild elephant in musth (increased testosterone and heightened aggression) attacked tamed elephant Arjuna during elephant capture operation in Yasalur range of Hassan on Monday and said wild elephant, a robust one, was undeterred by firing in the air and it came attacking.

Wildlife conservationists stated that when an elephant is in musth state, no capture operation should be conducted as per the protocol but here the forest officials have gone to capture a bull elephant in musth state a clear violation of the Standard Operating Procedure.

A wildlife lover Vinod Kanchur of Mudigere demanded an investigation into the death of a wild tusker in Mudigere and alleged that vets engaged in darting the jumbo have erred in darting the jumbo and the entire elephant capture operations was conducted in an “unscientific manner.” Meanwhile, Minister for Forests Eshwar Khandre felt the need to impart proper training for forest personnel in capture and rescue of wild animals.

( Source : Deccan Chronicle. )
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