An adult male wild elephant named Krishna died at a training facility in Assam’s Orang National Park on Sunday, six days after it was captured, officials said.
Chief minister Sarbananda Sonowal, who was on a visit to Goalpara, on October 29 ordered the capture of the 25-year-old male “rogue elephant” which was suspected to be responsible for the death of five people that day in district’s Matia area.
The animal was tranquillised and captured on November 11 with the help of forest officials and BJP legislator from Sootea constituency Padma Hazarika, who was involved in the operation along with his domestic elephant Ramu. Sonowal had congratulated Hazarika.
“At this point, all I can share is that the elephant was found dead this morning. He was doing fine till last night. The details of what led to his death will only be known after a post-mortem is done,” Orang National Park’s divisional forest officer BV Sandeep said.
The elephant had to be sent to a training facility at the park on November 12 after locals protested its release in the forest claiming it could cause more damage to human lives.
Some people had also started calling the animal ‘Laden’, a practice followed by local in Assam in case of animals which have hurt or killed humans. However, officials said ‘Laden’ had died last year.
The elephant, in a state of musth, was a loner and had separated from his herd, they said.
KK Sarma, who heads the department of surgery and radiology at Guwahati’s College of Veterinary Science, said the exact reason behind its death will only come out once the postmortem examination is conducted later in the day.
Sarma, however, said the animal must have been under tremendous physical and mental stress and trauma after it was captured and brought to the training facility.
“The postmortem will also reveal if there was any internal injury,” the well-known veterinarian said.
After coming in conflict with humans in Matia on October 29, the elephant had taken refuge in a reserve forest and officials had deployed drones to locate it on November 1.
Initially, officials of the state’s forest department decided to release the 9-foot-8-inch tall jumbo inside the Lumding Reserve Forest.
“The plan had to be abandoned after the news of its release there leaked and locals protested,” said Sarma.
Sarma said it was under pressure and for lack of alternate options that the elephant had to be taken in for training which is usually done to young elephants and not fully grown ones.
“We wanted to release him,” Sarma, who is on his way to Orang National Park to oversee the postmortem, said.
He said the people’s protest against its release even in a protected area, shows there is no space for animals like this elephant even in the state’s national parks and reserve forests which are essentially for them.
Deaths in human-elephant conflict toll have crossed 1000 in Assam since 2010 with 761 human casualties and 249 elephant deaths, according to data placed in the state assembly in February this year.