By Our Staff Reporter
Guwahati, July 3: He is one tough rhino with a die-hard instinct for survival. Shot at by suspected poachers with a gunshot injury on its leg, the adult male rhino came out of Kaziranga tiol Park a week back - triggering panic among the local populace in the Sonitpur-Biswath belt bordering the park.
Hapless foresters tailing the rhino round-the-clock, pumped in as many as six tranquilizer shots but still the rhino remained standing. It took two special doses of high-intensity drug imported from Delhi to filly bring it down on Sunday morning at Bhuyapara of Sootea.
"The first shot was pumped in at around 10.30 am. The animal became numb in a while. But as it was being shifted to a cage-fitted truck nearby, it came to its senses again. As it tried to scramble up, locals and forest personnel tried to pin it down by holding its legs - two of its front limbs were already tied after the first tranquilizer shot - so another tranquilizer shot was pumped in to bring it down," said animal activist Saurav Barkataki who has been assisting forest staff to drive the rhino back to Kaziranga for the last week.
However, in the scuffle, the vehicle that was brought to carry the rhino got stuck in the mud.
"We had to bring in excavators and elephants to filly put it in the vehicle," said forest conservator Shiv Kumar who had been overseeing the unprecedented operation that stretched for eight days.
Since the rhino strayed out of the park, staff of three forest divisions, besides police, CRPF and ITBP were engaged - on rotation basis - to keep track of the animal, the conservator said.
Asked about the gun-shot wound, the Conservator said it appeared to be an injury caused by a rifle. "However, it was not a .303 rifle as the injury would have been more serious then," he said.
The conservator admitted that the rhino gave the forest staff a tough time. "I have done translocation of rhinos in the past. We used one or two shots normally. But this time, even the tranquilizers failed. We had to fly in special drugs from the Delhi zoo," he said.
Veteriry expert Dr Kushal Sharma, who pumped in the fil tranquilizer shots, said the rhino is being shifted to the State Zoo in Guwahati as it required medical attention.
"There are injury marks on its body. One is most probably due to a gunshot. However, both the entry and exit wound is there and there is no fracture. Besides, there are bruises all over the body as the rhino ploughed into many things in the last few days of its ordeal," Dr Sharma told The Sentinel. "The animal needs to be looked after for 20-30 days under captivity," he added.