A wild bull elephant caused a major stir in an Indian city, wandering along the busy streets and crowds of photo-snapping onlookers before being tranquilised, officials said.
Potentially dangerous incidents of wild animals including elephants and leopards entering towns and cities are on the rise in India as urban expansion encroaches into the countryside.
In the latest incident, the male elephant from a nearby wildlife reserve lolloped down the main road into the city of Guwahati in the northeastern state of Assam on Tuesday.
It reached the downtown Ganeshguri and Bhangagarh areas, pushing some vehicles but causing no major damage as forest and police officials followed at a safe distance.
Major traffic congestion ensued as onlookers stopped their cars to take photos of the tusker, weighing several tonnes and thought to be around 11 years old, on their phones.
“I thought it was someone’s pet elephant,” local resident Avantika Bora said.
“However, later someone told me that it is a wild elephant. What is shocking is the fact that the elephant did not harm anyone,” Bora told AFP.
“It was difficult to tranquilise as the city streets were filled with traffic and there was lots of commotion with the onlookers,” Assam’s chief forest official A. M. Singh said.
“However, we took utmost care not to make the elephant panic and that is the reason there is no damage,” he said.
“We finally tranquilised the elephant around 10:30 pm last night and we moved it to the Assam State Zoo in Guwahati. This morning, we have taken the elephant to the Amsang Wildlife sanctuary near Guwahati and released it,” said zoo official Tejas Mariswamy.