Ranga and his gang of eight tuskers were loved by all

Ranga in his hey days near Banneghatta. DH File Photo

The sudden demise of Ranga, a 45-year-old elephant, who had gained notoriety as ‘Rowdy Ranga’ in and around Bannerghatta has left a deep void in the elephant corridor between Karnataka and Tamil Nadu.

Incidentally, Ranga was part of the lone group of pachyderms that hogged the limelight and gave sleepless nights to forest officials and villagers around Bannerghatta. In fact, the infamous group has now lost its identity with the death of Ranga.

Back in the mid-2000, a herd of eight elephants was known to raid crops around Bannerghatta. Left in the lurch due to the fragmented elephant corridor, the jumbos raided human habitations. According to experts who tracked this herd, there were eight elephants and Ranga was their leader.

“Ranga and Airavata were captured and translocated to an elephant camp in Nagarahole after initial training at Bannerghatta. Airavata died recently due to prolonged illness. While the two other jumbos had died due to electrocution near Tumakuru last year, two tuskers were handed over to the Mudumalai elephant camp,” an official told DH.

As people petrified and ran helter-skelter with his entry, he was named ‘Rowdy Ranga’. Though it is common for KFD officials to burst crackers and chase wild elephants, Ranga would often come close to the lit cracker and toss it up with his legs. Besides, Ranga had a fetish for food and enjoyed gulping coconut, ragi and paddy husk along with feasting on the verdant green foliage in the area.

These apart, the region was home to a Makhana (tusk-less male) named ‘Mac,’ who also died last month due to electrocution near Tattaguppe in Bannerghatta National Park (BNP) limits.

Currently, the department is tracking a young tusker believed to be part of the same gang. For over two decades, the herd wreaked havoc around Bengaluru. While all of them were aged between 25 and 45 years, Ranga and Mac were the eldest.

Even though the tuskers raided the villages individually, over the years all of them united and moved in a herd of eight, till the KFD special team operation to catch the most notorious separated them. Ranga was captured near Bhanatarakuppe near Magadi.

Turning emotional, a senior officer who was part of the operations, said, “It had become a habit and I often visited Nagarahole to see Ranga and Airavata.”

Avinash K, a scientist with A Rocha, recollected how the herd had their way ranging from Bannerghatta to Tamil Nadu via Tumakuru for over 25 years.

“Both in terms of gene pool and legacy, there is now a deep void. Nothing can fill this void,” he pointed out.

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