In an operation of radio-collaring a wild elephant, five forest officials were injured in Odisha including two officers from Karnataka. The name of the mighty beast Ramu has been surfacing as the culprit. The officers have been taken to AIIMS, Bhuvneshwar for further treatment.

What Happened in the Village?

On Sunday, five forest officials attempted to tranquilise a particular elephant named Ramu, in a forest in the Khordha region of Odisha, to fit a radio collar around its neck to track its directions and activities. The tranquiliser was shot from a dart gun which was supposed to sedate the animal in minutes. However, the animal woke up and charged at the forest officials without any anticipation. As everyone started running for their lives, inevitably they fell, tripped and got hit by objects around in the dense, dark forest resulting in injuries.

The injured included Khurda divisional forest officer (DFO) Poornima Pandian, two experts from the Indian Institute of Science (IISc), Bangalore, assistant conservator of forests, Khurda and forester of Bhushandpur section in Khurda Forest Division. Only the forester was discharged from the hospital after initial treatment.

What is Radio Collaring?

To monitor the tusker’s movements in real-time, the State Forest Department in association with the Asian Nature Conservation Foundation and IISc, Bangalore came up with a solution that is tying a radio collar around the elephant’s neck with GPS. This lightweight belt can help forest officials keep an eye on the elephant’s movements in real-time.

The team of officials have reported that they were trying to sedate the animal for three days.

The Statement Issued by the Forest Department

As the incident came to light, the Forest Department issued a press release on Monday morning, declaring the suspension of this particular project for the time being only to be taken up at a later stage. Had the incident been away from public discourse, they would have sedated seven more dangerous elephants in Chandaka sanctuary near Bhubaneswar, four in Simlipal National Park, and one in Dhenkanal district.

The Human-Elephant Conflict

The tranquillizing and the Radio Collaring process has been developed to save human habitations from elephant intrusion. This one mighty beast in particular, has been named Ramu by the locals. The 30-year-old, almost 9 feet high tusker has wreaked havoc in the villages, causing damage to crops, injuring and eventually killing several adults and kids.

This has been a predominant problem in Odisha’s villages in the last decade as more than 200 elephants and almost 300 humans have died in the process.