While Other Tamed Elephants Fled, Arjuna Stood Ground
Star of Mysore
December 5, 2023
Arjuna, the 64-year-old elephant that carried the 750-kg Golden Howdah
eight times during Mysuru Dasara, passed away yesterday following a
confrontation with a wild elephant in Yeslur range forest, Sakleshpur taluk
in Hassan district. The incident occurred during an operation to capture
The initiative to affix radio collars on nine wild elephants commenced on
Nov. 24 in Belur taluk. Tamed elephants, including Arjuna, were enlisted
for the operation.
Arjuna, accompanied by five other kumki elephants — Sugreeva, Ashwathama,
Dhananjaya, Bhima and Prashantha — actively participated in the attempt to
capture a wild elephant. The Forest Department had undertaken this
operation to address the issue of troublesome tuskers in Sakleshpur, Alur,
Belur and Yeslur ranges of Hassan.
During the operation around 11 am yesterday, the Department staff
identified a tusker for capture and a herd of 12 elephants was observed.
Following protocol, the target elephant needed to be separated from the
group. The operation involved six trained elephants and was meticulously
Around 2 pm, the staff, assisted by tamed elephants, successfully separated
the tusker and was about to administer a tranquilliser dart to sedate it.
However, the wild tusker charged at the tamed elephants. The Department
staff fired many rounds in the air with guns but this did not scare the
A Different Tusker?
This morning, officials in Hassan clarified that the tusker responsible for
attacking Arjuna was not the one initially identified for radio-collar
placement by the Forest staff.
A forest officer informed reporters, “The wild tusker, in a musth
condition, that attacked Arjuna was not identified at all. It was not in
the herd, and the giant tusker attacked Arjuna all of a sudden and from
nowhere. We had never seen or spotted this particular tusker.”
Reports said that Arjuna’s mahout Vinu and veterinarian Dr. Ramesh were on
top of Arjuna and Dr. Ramesh could not fire the tranquilliser due to the
sudden attack. Vinu and Dr. Ramesh fell to the ground safely from Arjuna’s
top as he bent during the attack. While the other elephants withdrew,
Arjuna stood firm, facing the charging tusker. The wild tusker’s sudden
attack forced the elephants and mahouts to retreat.
Sustained Deep Wounds
Arjuna valiantly fought against the tusker, sustaining deep wounds.
Unfortunately, he succumbed a few minutes later, leaving caretakers and
staff in deep sorrow. Vinu, Arjuna’s caretaker, fainted upon learning of
the tragedy and was rushed to a hospital in Sakleshpur. He had been
dedicatedly associated with Arjuna for many years.
The wild elephant inflicted severe injuries to Arjuna’s abdomen and sides
with a sharp tusk, leading to his demise. The intense bleeding and pain
became unbearable for Arjuna, who breathed his last with great difficulty.
In the skirmish between the wild tusker and Arjuna, over two acres of
vegetation were damaged, according to officials. After Arjuna fell, the
staff cleared the ground to make way for cremation and other formalities.
CM Condoles Dasara Elephant’s Death
Chief Minister Siddharamaiah condoled the death of Arjuna recalling his
majestic gait amid lakhs of people during the historical Dasara festivities
as unforgettable. “The majestic walk of Arjuna remains etched in the memory
of lakhs of people like me,” he said in his post on X.
Former CM H.D. Kumaraswamy said he was deeply pained by the loss of Arjuna.
“While other elephants went back, Arjuna alone fought valiantly during the
operation. It is sad to know the animal is no more. I wish the Forest
Department staff took enough care for their safety and safety of the
animals involved in such operations,” he said.