Injured elephant Sunder, who was housed at a Kolhapur company premises, has finally started his 610lkms-long journey to a rehabilitation home in Bangalore. As per Supreme Court orders, the elephant has to be moved by June 15.
Deputy Conservator of Forest (Kolhapur), Vijay Shelke, said, "The elephant was given mild sedatives and taken into the truck at around 8.30 am on Thursday. He is presently on his way to Bangalore, and is expected to reach there by Friday evening."
Dr Manilal Valliyate of People for Ethical Treatment to Animals (PETA), who was camping in Kolhapur to oversee the transfer, said, "The mahout, Hyder, is absconding; unknown persons punctured the tyres of the truck and the hospital which is accompanying Sunder. I suspect that these were done to ensure that he is not shifted. But the expert team from the Kerala Forest Department (KFD) have handled the situation very well and he is being relocated."
The truck carrying Sunder is being accompanied by an ambulance, a 10-member elephant squad and two veterinary experts from the KFD, along with members of the Kolhapur Forest Department.
The apex court had recently directed the Maharashtra government to transfer Sunder. It gave the direction while rejecting a Special Leave Petition filed by Kolhapur MLA Vinay Kore, challenging the Bombay high court order directing the transfer.
Recently, a check-up done on Sunder revealed that he suffered a massive wound on his left hind limb, as a result of constantly being tied with heavy chains. The examination was done by Dr Sasindra Dev, Forest Veterinary officer, Konni, Kerala, who was called in for issuing a health and fitness certificate for Sunder before he was transported to Bannerghatta Biological Park in Bangalore.
PETA had petitioned in the high court, highlighting the ill treatment being meted to Sunder while in the custody of MLA Vinay Kore. PETA had pleaded to the court that despite two orders from the central and state authorities, the forest department had not initiated any action even after a year. This was opposed by Kore, which was turned down by the court.