Bullet hit Arjuna, says Mahout; a piece of wood, say officials
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Bullet hit Arjuna, says Mahout; a piece of wood, say officials

December 8, 2023

Tamed elephants, caretakers return to camps with heavy heart; still shocked over Arjuna’s death

Mysuru/Hassan: The controversies surrounding the demise of the majestic Arjuna, the Dasara elephant, in a confrontation with a wild tusker at the Yeslur Range of Hassan, continue to unfold with fresh accounts of alleged negligence by the Forest Department.

Forest Department officials have denied claims of negligence, but Arjuna’s mahout, Vinu, shared a different perspective. According to Vinu, Arjuna sustained bullet injuries during the operation. Recounting the incident, Vinu stated that the confrontation between Arjuna and the wild tusker was intense, to the extent that it became challenging for forest personnel to distinguish Arjuna from the wild tusker.

In an attempt to halt the fierce battle, a bullet was fired, which unfortunately struck Arjuna’s leg. In addition to the bullet injury, Arjuna’s nail was injured as a piece of leftover wood from a severed tree pierced it.

Vinu explained that Arjuna eventually collapsed during the fight and the wild tusker fatally gored him to death.

These fresh revelations bring into question the handling of the situation by the Forest Department, as accounts of bullet injuries and the circumstances leading to Arjuna’s tragic demise come to light. The conflicting narratives between the Forest Department officials and Arjuna’s mahout add to the ongoing controversy surrounding this unfortunate incident.

Officials refute allegations

In response to allegations suggesting lapses in the operation and mistakes by the Forest Department, Chief Conservator of Forests Ravishankar refuted the claims, stating that the veterinarians conducted the post-mortem of Arjuna following established norms. He emphasised that if there had been any bullet injury on any of Arjuna’s legs, it would have been detected during the autopsy.

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Deputy Conservator of Forest (DCF) Mohan Kumar countered the narrative, asserting that Arjuna was in severe pain due to a wound caused by a piece of leftover wood from a severed tree piercing his leg. He mentioned having observed the bleeding wound while preparing to put a radio collar on the wild tusker if captured. Regarding Mahout Vinu’s claim that Arjuna was hit by a bullet and incapacitated during the fight, he dismissed this assertion.

In light of the tragic death of Arjuna, the Forest Department has temporarily halted the operation to tag rogue wild elephants in Alur and Sakleshpur with radio collars for a duration of 10 days.

This decision aims to provide rest to other tamed elephants and mahouts who are reportedly distressed and still coping with the shock of Arjuna’s demise. The four elephants that participated in the 10-day operation have been transported back to the camp.

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