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Sunder heads to new home in Bangalore

 The state forest department officials finally managed to get 14-year-old Sunder elephant to board the truck for his journey to Bannerghatta National Park in Bangalore, three days after the efforts to move the animal began. The earlier attempts were foiled due to chaos near a poultry shed at Warnanagar in Kolhapur, where Sunder was kept since last couple of years. Heavy police deployment was seen around the dairy premises when the officials resumed their efforts early on Thursday morning. The officials administered Sunder mild sedation, usually termed as standing sedation, to ensure his cooperation in the procedure.


The forest department officials accompanied the pachyderm till Karnataka border and the animal will reach his new home by Friday morning. Vijay Shelke, deputy conservator of forests, said "We were facing hurdles while loading the animal in the vehicle. We had demanded police protection to prohibit any mischief by the onlookers that could have frightened Sundar. Moreover, the vehicle carrying the animal had to be halted couple of times as the tyres were punctured due to nails spread in its way." The forest officials had taken the permission of veterinarians to sedate the animal. Complete video recording of the exercise has been done, which will be tabled before the Supreme Court as proof for accomplishment of the efforts.


The SC on May 29 had ordered the state forest department to implement the Bombay high court's order to release the animal in an elephant care centre in Bangalore before June 15. The forest officials had criticized the caretakers for not cooperating in the elephant's release from Warnanagar. When the forest officials reached the place where Sunder was kept, the mahout had already escaped late on Wednesday night. In order to ensure the safe boarding of the animal, experts from Kerala and veterinarians were called in. The People for Ethical Treatment to Animals (Peta) on Tuesday accused the state forest department of failing to provide obstruction-free environment to shift Sunder. The Petaeven went to extent of blaming the forest department of failing to ensure adequate police presence at the spot.


On Thursday morning, the onlookers tried to prevent the forest officials from sedating the animal. However, they were stopped by the police. Sumit Patil, a resident of Warnanagar, said that they were extremely unhappy with the decision to shift the elephant. "We are in total grief. We were blessed by the presence of Sunder since last six years and the people from the valley will feel lonely from now," he said. The Jotiba temple was granted possession of Sunder in 2007, but after it came to light that was being chained and beaten up constantly, state minister of forests Patangrao Kadam on August 21, 2012 and the Project Elephant division of the Union ministry of environment and forests on November 9, 2012 issued orders for his release.


Hindu, Delhi, 5th June 2014