GUWAHATI, April 30 - A wild elephant strayed from its herd into the city and detoured the GS Road this afternoon, bringing vehicular traffic on the busy arterial road to a standstill for several hours.
The jumbo, around eleven years of age, however did not cause any damage nor attacked anyone but triggered panic in the entire area. Unable to divert it to either the State zoo or any other forest, officials had to tranquillize it after sunset.
�Apparently, it came out from the Hengrabari reserve forest. We were keeping a track on it since morning. Adequate care was taken not to make it panicky. Probably that is why it did not do any damage,� Head of Forest Force AM Singh said.
The wild elephant reached Ganeshguri around 3 pm from where it explored the streets and strolled to the ABC point, stunning bystanders and commuters. At Ganeshguri it even pushed a couple of static vehicles to make its way, but did not harm the passengers inside.
A team of forest and police officials followed the jumbo even as traffic on both the lanes of GS Road was stopped to avert any untoward incident. A truck was positioned strategically to prevent it from coming towards Christian Basti, but it did not yield the desired result. Scores of people also followed the forest staff to capture the spectacle on their smartphones.
The elephant took a U-turn at the ABC point and moved back on GS Road and entered the Sreenagar locality where it was finally tranquillized.
A single dart was fired at around 6:45 pm after which the animal�s movement slowed down. Even as it moved after that it damaged a wall of a residence.
Zoo DFO Tejas Mariswamy said a second dart was fired a few minutes later, but even that could not completely incapacitate it.
By around 8:30 pm, the forest officials were able to take control of the elephant, which was inside a compound behind the Spanish Garden.
�Even by then it was not completely tranquillized. Probably it was due to public pressure as there was a lot of commotion and noise created by onlookers,� a forest guard, who was part of the rescue team, said.
At the time of filing of this report, forest officials were preparing to tie up the jumbo and evacuate it to Amchang Wildlife Sanctuary in a hydra vehicle.
Forest officials say an elephant needs a lot of food and water. Earlier, the elephants at Amchang and other adjacent forest areas had a circuit from Marakdola to Deepor Beel through Rani and Garbhanga. This route has been blocked now. So, the elephants tend to enter human habitats. There are around 50 elephants in Amchang.
The number of instances of wild elephants straying into the city has been rising of late. A voluntary anti-depredation squad was formed last year at Botahguli of Panjabari to deal with the problem. Three groups were formed comprising forest staff and local people to ensure safe and unhindered passage for elephants when they are in the area.