Two wild tuskers, stranded in a town in Uttar Pradesh's Rohilkhand region who had sent forest officials on a wild goose chase for the past almost three and a half weeks, have finally been tranquilized.
After the crucial tranquilisation carried out late on Wednesday the tuskers were now being transported by road from Bareilly to Pilibhit where they would be pushed back to forests by Thursday afternoon.
"While one tusker has almost reached the Pilibhit forest outskirts, the other one which took longer to be mounted on a truck, has also crossed Bareilly toll plaza," Rajesh Pandey, DIG Bareilly range told IANS.
The tuskers who drifted away from their usual pathways in forests bordering Uttar Pradesh on the Nepal border (near Pilibhit) had strayed into town area, killing more than five people at different locations at different time during these weeks.
Talking to the IANS, Chief Conservative of Forest, Lalit Verma said that the two tuskers were tamed by the experts in the town of Malik, located between Rampur and Bareilly in Rohilkhand region.
The wild elephants were finally tranquilised and are being transported to forests by a special truck, meant for transportation of the mamoths.
Earlier forest authorities requested the DIG in Barelly to clear the highway so that tuskers could be transported to Pilibhit (forest) within the stipulated time. Armed police and special elephant patrol teams were deployed by the Forest Department to contain the tuskers who had lost their way in jungle and strayed into urban area.
The two wild elephants, wandering from one spot to another since the past forthnight, had killed five person in separate incidents. On Monday last, the jumbos reached Mirzapur village, 15 km from Rampur and trampled one Raju Yadav who was returning home from work on bicycle.
According to villagers, Raju was not aware of the presence of the wild elephants in the village. He unwittingly came close to them on the road near his house and was trampled and killed.
Two weeks ago, the wild tuskers killed a person identified as Baijnath in Bilaspur tehsil and injured two others. Forest officials then had said that they were trying to divert the elephants towards Bahedi in Bareilly district.
Forest officials had also got two more cow elephants from the Dudhwa Tiger Reserve for push-and-pull process to lure the tuskers away from human habitation to the forests.
Earlier Divisional Forest Officer, Rampur, A.K. Kashyap, supervising the operation had said: "We are taking all necessary precautionary measures to divert them in case they do so. We have made arrangements for lighting a fire and keeping husk with chilli powder and firecrackers in hand."
Forest officials had installed loudspeakers on their vehicles and were going around all villages situated within 10-km radius of Peepal Sana, telling villagers keep away from their fields for safety. Similar announcements were also made from mosques on Monday.
Earlier, P.P. Singh, Chief Conservator of Forests, Jhansi, and in-charge of elephant rescue operation, said: "Though the tuskers diverted towards a westward direction, they were still in our range. There is nothing to panic. Due to weekly markets held at the villages in Rampur on Saturday, we could not conduct the push-and-pull process properly.
"However, we will continue with our strategy to move the two bull elephants in the right direction. Though we are taking help of three cow elephants from Dudhwa in our rescue operation, we have sought two more for assistance. We are expecting the two cow elephants to arrive by Monday."
Rampur divisional forest officer A.K. Kashyap said that the elephants are now likely to be shifted to Amangarh Tiger Reserve in Bijnore district. He said that the tuskers were tranquilized on an agricultural field in Khata Chintamaan village under Milak sub-division by a team of experts.
P.P. Singh, chief conservator of forests, Jhansi, and the in-charge of elephant rescue operation, said, "The elephants were sedated in a standing position. Their legs were then tied with the help of excavators. They will be transported from the area on Thursday."
High drama was witnessed at the site of the rescue as hundreds of people had gathered to witness the operation and heavy police force was deployed in the area to control the crowd.
Rampur chief medical officer rushed two ambulances to the spot as a precautionary measure.
A team of more than 150 forest officials from six districts of Uttar Pradesh apart from other experts from various parts of the country were also present.
The wild elephants were first spotted in the agriculture belt of Amaria block of Pilibhit district on June 24. Officials suspect that they strayed out of Uttarakhand and entered Bareilly's Lakhimpur village from Amaria.
They later killed a 45-year-old farmer on June 27 and another person on June 30. On July 2, the elephants trampled a man to death in Rudrapur's Rampura Colony. The next day, they killed a forest guard in Tigri village.
Similarly on July 14, they killed another man in Rampur's Chandpur Qadeem village taking the total death toll to five.
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