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Young tusker Nanda dies amid green custodians in Bhubaneswar: Questions ramp up regarding care and nutrition of reared pachyderm

17/05/2022 at 12:05 AM

Bhubaneswar, May 16: Nanda, the 38-year young tusker which was reared in the Godibari forest within the Chandaka wildlife sanctuary for Koonki training in order to expedite the elephants rescue across the state died in a precarious condition on Sunday.

After falling abnormally unconscious following a tranquilization by a team of veterinarians in order to carry it for the Kumarkhunti Elephant rescue center around 20 days ago, the giant animal died in the wee hours during treatments.

Sources said, Nanda was born and brought up in Nandankanan zoo from the pairing of a couple of the pachyderms. It was almost healthy and calm in its early childhood for which it was selected for Koonki training (Mela Shikar) so that it will assist the wildlife specialists to treat, nourish ailed elephants across the state. Subsequently, it was released from the enclosure of Nandankanan for the Godibari forest to provide koonki training to it. Accordingly the koonki trainers were deployed to train Nanda under the aegis of an Assam based agency and to tame it for assisting the animal surgeons at need.

However, the calm and cool pachyderm turned wild as a number of trainers (Mahuntas) were changed frequently who broke its silence with their hoarse and painful commands. As a result, no mahuntas could saddle the taming animal despite a series of frantic attempts. Eventually the dream of the forest officials remained un-translated when Nanda threw mahuntas off its back and chased for attack.  

Getting no ways out, Nanda was foot-bound with an iron chain in the Godibari forest in view of minimizing its ferociousness and prepare it suitable for Koonki. However, it remained out of control till the last 20 days. Meanwhile, the forest officials made an effort to escort it for the Kumarkhunti bit, to the proposed Elephant Rescue Centre by a chasing operation undertaken by a team of elephant trackers but in vain. Getting no option to carry it on an animal trans-locator vehicle, it was tranquilized by a team of animal doctors. However, unconsciousness of Nanda for a longer time than the scheduled time as per the tranquilizing dose worried the doctors. Though it started body movements after a few hours, it felt weak and unhealthy, long after the anaesthetic medication to trap it with ease.

Reportedly, it turned weaker and laid itself idle leaving fodders and drink since its ailments after administering the tranquilizing drugs. Gradually it was found immobile most of the time and its health conditions worsened day by day. On the last Sunday, Nanda fell down faint all of a sudden while standing and caught sight of the animal doctors. It bothered the team as the elephant woke up for hours together after medical intervention, for which an OUAT team was called for to undertake a higher treatment. All the efforts of the animal specialists proved futile and Nanda died during treatment.

Environmentalists and animal lovers have termed the sudden death of Nanda at less than half of its normal lifespan as an immature death. Especially, they have raised questions regarding the indispensability of the tranquilization, in order to dislocate it for an environment, nearby its familiar habitat which could have been foot-marched by the giant mammal. At the same time, a few animal lovers have alleged faulty tranquilization procedure as Nanda was almost healthy and sound before the bid of the anaesthetic interventions.

Environmentalist, Shantwana Dash said that a healthy adult elephant lives on around 600 pound herbs a day for its normal sustainability. If Nanda was fed with the essential green food regularly, and its health was under routine supervision, what made it so weak in a couple of days to fall faint and succumbed to a sudden ailment?

The accidental death of the middle aged elephant is a system failure for forest department, where a higher end medical care, requisite number of forest staff along with crews of care-takers and resources of Nandankanan zoological park are at an arm’s length.

“Today’s outcome revealed that we have no potential to survive an exiled elephant in a corner of a vast forest at a remote district, if Nanda’s life could not be saved despite our utmost care exploring all essential logistics available with us”, added Dash.   

On the other hand, Din of OUAT Veterinary College and the HOD of Surgery, Dr Sushen Panda said, the medical team diagnosed some fatal bacterial infections in the elephant’s body which is suspected to be due to Septicaemia like infection.

However, smear and blood samples of Nanda have been sent to the wildlife laboratory for revealing the possible reason behind the pachyderm’s death, Panda added.

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