A 20-year-old elephant, which got stuck in a fishing net in Nugu backwaters of Sargur taluk was on Tuesday rescued after an eight-hour operation by forest and fire service staff.
The elephant which was found struggling to free itself after its legs got entangled in the fishing nets cast by fishermen last morning, was rescued at around 2.30 pm.
Bandipur Tiger Reserve foresters said an elephant herd had entered the backwaters on Monday night to cross to the other side for food.
While swimming, one of them got entangled in a net laid by fishermen.
The Forest Department officials, then rushed to the spot after being informed about the elephant by local villagers, who noticed it at 6 am on Tuesday.
The Police and the Forest Department personnel then took a boat near the elephant, but could not get closer to it as it panicked and splashed water making the boat unstable. As a result, the team had to return to the banks.
Later, when the elephant was too tired to splash water, the fire personnel went on a boat, dropped the metal hooks with ropes attached to them and slowly tugged at the entangled nets until they came free from underneath the elephant’s legs.
The elephant then mustered all its strength, swam to the shore and then walked into the forest. There was a sigh of relief and celebration among the huge crowd that had gathered at the spot to witness the rescue operation.
When SOM spoke to a few local residents and asked them if such an incident had happened earlier, they replied in the negative and said that this incident could be because of fishing contractor casting nets in the restricted part of the backwaters.
It may be recalled that fishing contracts have been issued for many years now in the backwaters with certain conditions which includes not casting nets in certain portion of the backwaters as elephants and other wild animals come there to quench their thirst and for a swim.
It is yet to be known whether the nets in which the elephant was caught, was cast in the restricted portion of the backwaters or not.
Meanwhile, the Forest Department staff found old nets in the water when they went to rescue the elephant. This means that old nets are being discarded in the backwaters which is illegal as they pose a threat to wild animals.