Elephant resists shifting to Chhattisgarh: Breaks chains, jumps off truck at Dubare

Dubare elephant escaping
Ajaya jumped into Dubare River and escaped

The grand plan of the Forest Department officials to shift six tamed elephants from Dubare and Mathigodu elephant camps in Kodagu to capture wild elephants at Chhattisgarh met with stiff opposition from one of the elephants. Probably, realising that he is being transported to an unfamiliar location, a male elephant jumped off the transport vehicle at Dubare Elephant Camp by breaking the chains and fled into the jungles.

Shocked by this sudden development, the Forest Department officials sent only five elephants and decided to retain the protesting elephant. As per the plan, six elephants — three from Dubare Elephant Camp and three from Mathigodu Elephant Camp — were to be sent to Chhattisgarh to capture wild elephants that are wreaking havoc there.

The government of Chhattisgarh had requested the Karnataka government to help them in tackling the elephant menace. Accordingly, the request was forwarded to the Forest Department. On Monday, special trucks were brought to Dubare to transport three elephants to Chhattisgarh and the elephants were made to climb them one at a time.

While two elephants obeyed the commands, Ajaya was reluctant and resisted the attempts to transport him from Dubare, the place he is familiar with. He refused to move inside the truck. Irked by the elephant’s resistance, officials summoned Dasara elephant Abhimanyu, the tusker known for taming wild elephants, to push Ajaya into the truck.

While Abhimanyu dutifully pushed Ajaya inside the truck, forest staff tied him inside. But the angry 27-year-old Ajaya, who is also said to be in ‘masth’ condition, broke the chains and jumped off the truck to flee inside the forest, trumpeting as if to express his anger and relief.

The absence of Ajaya’s mahout Dobhi made the situation worse as the elephant does not listen to anybody’s commands. Fellow mahouts and officials traced Ajaya yesterday morning while he was resting inside Cauvery River. Because of his tantrums, rafting and boating activities were cancelled yesterday.

Now the department officials have decided to leave Ajaya in Dubare. According to elephant experts and researchers, elephants are very sensitive and do not like being shifted to unfamiliar surroundings. Even if they are shifted, it will take a long time for them to adjust to the surroundings. “Sometimes, elephants do die, unable to adjust to the new surroundings. They constantly remember their original place from where they are shifted,” experts said.

Meanwhile, mahouts said that Ajaya’s mahout Dobhi and his family had been to Bengaluru on Sunday (Jan. 21) to petition Chief Minister Siddharamaiah to cancel the government order on sending elephants Theertha Rama, Parashurama and Ajaya, which were groomed by him and his family, to Chhattisgarh.

However, Dobhi could not meet the CM. Instead, he submitted a memorandum to Transport Minister H.M. Revanna, who promised that he will discuss the issue with Siddharamaiah. By the time Dobhi and family returned from Bengaluru on Tuesday, Theertha Rama and Parashurama were already transported to Chhattisgarh.

Seeing Ajaya petrified, Dobhi blamed Abhimanyu for rough-handling his pet. “It will take time for him to be cool and normal,” he added.

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