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Elephant Whisperer: UP forest officials have never heard of it

Tuesday - July 23, 2019 10:24 am , Category : SCIENCE & TECHNOLOGY
Lucknow, July 23 (IANS) Forest officials in Uttar Pradesh who have been grappling with the problem of two wild tuskers wandering in western part of the state, have not even heard of the technique of elephant whisperers that can tame these wild giants.
"The Elephant Whisperer" a famous book by South African conservationist Lawrence Anthony gives a heartwarming account of taming a herd of wild elephants.
The bestseller, published in 2009, talks about the time when Lawrence Anthony was asked to accept a herd of 'rogue' elephants on his Thula Thula game reserve in South Africa.
Anthony initially refused but then he realized that his refusal could mean the death of the elephants.
He agreed, but before arrangements for the move could be completed the animals broke out again and the matriarch and her baby were shot.
The remaining elephants were traumatised, dangerous, and very angry. As soon as they arrived at Thula Thula they started planning their escape.
As Lawrence battled to create a bond with the elephants and save them from execution, he came to realize that they had a lot to teach him about life, loyalty and freedom.
Everyday the new matriarch would plan to bring down the perimetre and escape. But right when she would approach with the herd for the escapade, Lawrence would stand guard outside the perimetres keeping a constant vigil.
Every night the matriarch would meet the eyes of this man pleading for her to understand that death was certain if she took the herd out, as it was made clear that the rogue would not be spared if they escaped Thula Thula.
Hunters with rifles circled the park waiting for the big game.
After months of this emotional stand-off between Lawrence and the matriarch, finally at dawn, she reach out across the perimetre and touched Lawrence with her trunk, finally giving in to his appeal.
Set against the background of life on the reserve, with unforgettable characters and exotic wildlife, this delightful book tells us that even the wildest elephants can be tamed.
Lawrence gradually tamed the tuskers and they began to respond to his love. When Anthony died, the elephants went to his house, mourned and returned to their enclosure.
Top forest officials in Uttar Pradesh have not even heard of Anthony's experiences.
"These elephants are too dangerous and we cannot take the risk of experimenting with them. Even the most-trained mahouts have refused to help us with these tuskers that have already killed five persons," said a senior official from the forest service.
"Fact is different from fiction. I have not heard about 'Elephant Whisperer' but it seems like a fairy tale. We cannot risk lives in this case trying to emulate the elephant whisperer formula."
Meanwhile, the 40-year-old wild tusker that entered Pilibhit Tiger Reserve (PTR) was spotted in a sugarcane field at Majara village under Puranpur tehsil on Monday.
A team of trained elephant trackers called from West Bengal traced the jumbo footprints over 7km and spotted it in a sugarcane field in the Majara village.
Field Director of PTR, H. Rajamohan, said that tusker was expected to move towards Nepal in a day or two.
"This tusker is not aggressive in behaviour and is avoiding areas where villagers are present. This is a relief for us as this characteristic makes the possibility of this elephant attacking human beings remote," he said.
The forest force, however, would keep a close eye on it with a view to ensuring safety of the villagers of the area, he added.
This tusker is one of the two wild bull elephants that was tranquilized in Rampur district and shifted to PTR. Both were released on Thursday night in PTR's Mahof range.
Soon the two, inseparable since June 24 while they wandered from one place to another, parted ways and the older elephant, aged 40 years, moved towards Uttarakhand. Its companion, aged 35, headed towards Mataiyya Lalpur village and made a nuisance of itself, damaging a house, destroying paddy crop and eating bananas.
On Saturday, the younger bull headed towards Sampurna Nagar forest range of North Kheri forest division, much to the relief of PTR staff.
Both the tuskers are now following the route that leads them back to Nepal.

--IANS amita/in