Lead elephant Arjuna and Srirama, Gajendra, Abhimanyu, Harsha and Vikrama have been roped in to drive the herd back to where it belongs: the wild. The six are veterans at it, with four — Abhimanyu, Gajendra, Srirama and Arjuna — pulling off a Mission Impossible in the dense jungles of central India (see box).
‘Six are enough’
Umashankar, the veterinarian accompanying the animals, told The Hindu the six ‘well groomed soldiers’ are enough to drive away wild herd of any size back to the forests.
The team also has tranquilliser experts such as Akram, Venkatesh and Karumbaiah, who are prepared to tackle any emergencies.
Arjuna (53), who carried the golden howdah at the Dasara last year, comes from Mathigodu camp. The magnificent pachyderm was under a cloud briefly recently when he was suspected to have killed a fellow elephant, Raja. But the post-mortem report attributed it to an attack by a wild elephant.
Abhimanyu (47) is trained to corral wild elephants. Vets rely on him to administer injections and medicines to wild elephants.
The fleet-footed Gajendra (58) is admired for being one of the fastest animals while capturing wild elephants.
Srirama (56) is known for keeping his nerve and was a major player in the Dasara celebrations.
Vikrama (41) and Harsha (47) are also able soldiers in the operation, said M.M. Achappa, Range Forest Officer, Kushalnagar.