Arjuna Elephant, the legendary tusker renowned for carrying the golden howdah during Mysuru Dasara from 2012 to 2019, met a tragic end during a rescue operation in Yasalur, Sakleshpur taluk, Hassan district. The elephant, aged 55, succumbed after a wild elephant attacked him amid the operation on Monday.
Officials reported that during the rescue task initiated on November 23 from Balle elephant camp to Hassan division, a wild elephant intruded and engaged Arjuna in a fatal confrontation. Harshkumar Chikkaranaragunda, DCF of Nagarahole Tiger Reserve, confirmed the distressing demise of the majestic tusker.
Arjuna Elephant, towering at 2.95 meters and weighing approximately 5,870 kilograms, was a magnificent sight during the annual Mysuru Dasara procession, attracting multitudes who marveled at the procession of grandeur on Vijayadashami. His participation for 22 years captivated audiences, notably as the bearer of the golden howdah for seven consecutive years, succeeding Balarama.
Having been captured in a khedda operation in 1968 from the Western Ghats’ Kekkanakote forests, Arjuna Elephant was domesticated and became an integral part of the cultural spectacle of the Dasara procession, even in its 2023 edition.
Despite his illustrious service, Arjuna had a history of temperamental behavior. In 1996, an incident occurred where he accidentally trampled his mahout, Annaiah, during a bathing session. This led to his temporary confinement at Nagarahole National Park. Although labeled an accident, this incident underscored Arjuna’s occasional bouts of unpredictability.
Following government directives mandating the retirement of elephants above 60 years from demanding activities, Arjuna was relieved of the responsibility of carrying the howdah in 2019, making way for Abhimanyu to take over.
Arjuna’s demise marks the end of an era for the beloved pachyderm, leaving behind a legacy cherished by Dasara enthusiasts and highlighting the sacrifices made by these magnificent creatures in cultural celebrations.