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Ill, abandoned elephant rescued

A Mumbai family rushed to the city after hearing about the critical condition of the female elephant Chanchal, who was abandoned by her handlers at an isolated spot on Ravet-Kiwale road in Nigadi when it became unwell.

Pavan Pandye and four members of his family, including Sarish Pandye, who is an animal handler, were shocked at the mahout’s apathy for the animal after it become critically ill and decided to dash to the city to help with the rescue operation.


Huge effort: The unwell elephant is hoisted by a crane and loaded on a truck from the spot where it was abandoned by its handlers

The task to move the three-and-half tonne animal from the spot where it had been lying for several days, involved PCMC zoo authorities, fire brigade officials, forest officials, and several animal lovers, including animal handler Sarish Pandye. The group toiled for around four hours to lift the elephant with the help of two cranes and have her loaded on a truck. After careful loading, the elephant was shifted to an animal rescue centre in Manikdoh in Taluk Junnar yesterday evening.

Sarish Pandye, who rushed to Nigadi from Mumbai with four members of his family to supervise Chanchal's rescue. PIC/NAVNATH KAPLE

Sarish supplies animal to the film industry and has participated in several such rescue operations in Kerala, West Bengal and Mumbai.

Sarish calmed the injured animal by speaking to it constantly and then asked the rescue team to tie the elephant’s front and back legs with a steamer belt and use another three steamer belts under her body to balance her weight equally. The crane then lifted the 3.5 tonne animal and lowered her on the back of a truck.

“The critically ill Chanchal cooperated with us and made our operation successful by not resisting our efforts,” Sarish said.

Dr Satish Gore, veterinary doctor associated with Bahinabai Chaudhari Snake Park in PCMC, who treated the elephant, said that an animal handler’s role in such an operation is important.

Assistant Conservator of Forests, Pune Division said that the elephant will be monitored by a veterinary doctor round the clock. “Pune-based animal rights activist Manoj Oswal contacted Mumbai-based mahouts to coordinate the rescue operation,” Kadam said.

Speaking after the elephant was moved to the rescue centre Oswal said that the entire operation was a success because of a few crucial reasons.

“Rescuing the elephant was a well coordinated community effort, which became easier due to the expertise of a member of the Pandye family, who legally owns elephants in Mumbai,” Oswal said. 

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