Tusker Kusha captured near Dubare

Tied to a tree at Meenukolli, elephant sheds tears and continuously trumpets for mate.

Kusha, the male elephant that went missing from Dubare Elephant Camp in Kodagu District, has finally been caught by the Forest Department on Tuesday. The tamed elephant ventured into the forests one-and-a-half years ago in search of a mate and had not returned.

He had broken his chain and had escaped from the camp. Though Kusha was spotted by the Department staff in January and February this year, he had refused to return. When the forest staff tried to coax Kusha back a couple of times, it showed an agitated behaviour, said officials.  Now Kusha has been tied under a tree at Meenukolli near Dubare.

Twenty-seven-year-old tusker Kusha was in ‘Musth’ condition when it escaped from the Dubare camp and it had unshackled itself before venturing inside the woods in search of a female. Elephants Kusha and Lava were caught during an operation at Betekadu in Virajpet taluk four years ago and both were tamed at the Dubare camp by Mahout Mani and Kavadi Ravi.

All efforts by the mahouts and Forest Department officials to persuade Kusha to return had not yielded any results all these months and in fact, Kusha was shying away from Mahout Mani, Kavadi Ravi and refused to obey their commands and used to throw tantrums. Actually Kusha had found a mate and whenever department personnel tried to get closer to Kusha, his female companion would register her protest too, said the officials. Even CCTV cameras had been placed to track Kusha’s movements.

Kusha was finally captured on Tuesday after coaxing him to a particular area. The team was led by tamed elephants Prashanth, Dhananjaya, Sugreeva and Lakshmana. Kusha has been tied to a tree near a guest house in Meenukolli. Department staff said that as Kusha has been forcefully separated from his mate, he has been shedding tears and continuously trumpeting.

Dubare Deputy Range Forest Officer K.P. Ranjan told Star of Mysore that Kusha would be shifted to Dubare soon. “The tamed elephants involved in the operation are exhausted along with the Mahouts and Kavadis in Kusha-capture operation. We will wait for one or two days and we will plan to shift. If Kusha shows normal behaviour, it will be allowed to move freely inside the Dubare camp boundaries. If it is agitated or shows any sign of disobedience, it will be put in Kraal (a wooden log enclosure into which elephants are driven into to be tamed),” he added.

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Tusker Kusha put into Kraal at Dubare Camp