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Pitfalls for the pachyderm in forests too

By Our Staff Reporter

UDHAGAMANDALAM, AUG.18. Forest department officials in the Mudumalai Wildlife Sanctuary near here rescued a wild elephant from a pit after a four-hour `operation' yesterday. They are now investigating the circumstances that landed the eight-year-old pachyderm in a near-death situation.

The Wildlife Warden of the Nilgiris, Ashok Upreti, said the staff found the female elephant trapped inside the pit in a forest area about 100 metres off the Masinagudy-Moyar Road yesterday afternoon. It had slipped through a narrow opening of the pit, which was 12-15 feet deep and 10-15 feet wide. It might have fallen into the pit while a herd was passing through.

Though the animal appeared weak, it did not eat green fodder thrown into the pit.

However, when a bucket with water was lowered with a rope, the elephant quenched its thirst. Meanwhile, mahouts and kumkis (trained elephants) from the elephant camp in the sanctuary were sent for and a request was made to the Nilgiris Wildlife and Environment Association here to send an earthmover.

Water bucket as bait

On noticing the elephant drinking large quantities of water, the officials created a large opening and lured the animal out of the pit by dangling a bucket of water. After emerging from the pit, the elephant stared at the men and machinery for about 10 minutes before moving into the dense forest.

However,after the `rescue operation', the attention of the officials was drawn to the cone-shaped pit.

Apparently, such holes were dug to store grain according to tribals.

Now, the officials have been instructed to locate all pits in and near the sanctuary to prevent wild animals from falling into them.

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