Kumki elephant Jashoda, who had been brought from Chandaka to help Satkosia forest officials track tigress Sundari, an alleged maneater, killed a 45-year-old tribal man on Thursday.
Jashoda was tied after her bath to be fed bamboos by the mahout near a nullah in front of the forest range office in Satkosia. Around the time, Sudhir Padhan, a tribal villager, was on his way to the nullah. When he saw the elephant, he tried to feed her a banana plant.
The gesture, however, did not go down well with Jashoda who dragged Sudhir along with the banana plant and crushed him to death.
The mahout and others were away to fetch bamboo to feed the elephant when the incident took place.
Confirming the mishap, Satkosia divisional forest officer Ramaswamy P called the incident “unfortunate”. He said the man was killed when he went near the elephant to feed her. A sum of Rs 4 lakh would be given to his family and Rs 40,000 as immediate funeral expenses, said the officer.
Soon after the incident, the mahout brought the elephant to the range office where she is staying now.
Questions were meanwhile raised as to how Jasoda, a well trained Kumki elephant, turned so violent all of a sudden.
Wildlife experts feel the elephant had been over-utilised by the forest department ever since she was brought from Chandka to Satkosia on Saturday.
She had travelled for days in Satkosia forest in search of tigress Sundari, who needed to be tracked to be tranquilised as she was alleged to have killed two persons and livestock near the area bordering villages.
It was an entirely new area for Jashoda and she may have been mentally stressed, the experts opine.
It may be mentioned that Sundari has already been transquilised, captured and released to a special enclosure in Raigoda, which is spread over 5 sq km and has live prey.
The tigress is fine and is being constantly monitored . All movements and behaviour are stable and normal. She will be given live prey within a day or two.
Sundari will stay here for some time until a decision about her shifting is taken by the government in consultation of the NTCA and the WII, according to forest officials.