Was the tranquilliser dart fired? Did it hit Arjuna?
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Was the tranquilliser dart fired? Did it hit Arjuna?

December 5, 2023

Alleging cover-up after negligence, wildlife activists call for detailed investigation

Hassan: Conflicting accounts have emerged from the incident where Arjuna succumbed to the injuries inflicted by a wild tusker.

According to the Forest Department’s press release, the team involved in the wild elephant capture at Yeslur was unable to administer the tranquilliser dart to the wild tusker as it launched a sudden attack. 

However, contradictory information surfaced when another forest officer informed reporters this morning that the tusker responsible for Arjuna’s death was not the one initially marked for radio-collaring. This unknown tusker, previously unseen in the region, introduced an element of unpredictability to the situation.

Furthermore, varying versions of the events are circulating, with one report suggesting that the tranquilliser dart was fired, inadvertently striking Arjuna instead of the wild elephant, rendering him more vulnerable. Another account mentions that the dart hit the legs of elephant Prashantha, and Arjuna valiantly guarded Prashantha while the wild tusker attacked.

Forced out of retirement 

Arjuna, captured in 1968 during a Khedda operation in the Kakanakote forest, carried the Golden Howdah until his retirement in 2020 after 60 years of service. Allegations from wildlife enthusiasts claim that the tusker, peacefully residing at the Balle Elephant Camp in Nagarahole Tiger Reserve, was forced out of retirement for elephant and tiger-trapping operations.

Critics argue that this move violated Supreme Court guidelines, which prohibit the engagement of tamed elephants in hazardous tasks. They assert that the Forest Department’s decision to involve Arjuna in such operations directly led to his tragic demise.

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Wildlife activists are demanding a thorough and impartial investigation to uncover the truth behind Arjuna’s death, emphasising the need for accountability and adherence to established guidelines. Alleging a cover-up after negligence that led to Arjuna’s death, the wildlife activists have demanded the collection of blood samples from Arjuna to determine the presence of sedatives.

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