A forest guard working at the Nagarhole Tiger Reserve died on Thursday after he was attacked by an elephant at the Doddalla beat. The incident occurred between 3 and 4 pm on Thursday afternoon when 52-year-old Gururaj, a guard at the reserve was patrolling along with two other guards. Gururaj sustained severe injuries after the group was attacked by an elephant and he succumbed to his injuries on the way to the hospital. The other two guards escaped with minor wounds.
Gururaj worked as a cook in the reserve for over 25 years before he was appointed as a guard and began patrolling around three years ago. Conservationists questioned why he was asked to do field work. "He had sustained a back injury. He struggled every day on the 10-12 km beat in Nagarhole. He had pleaded, even begged senior officers to consider his appeal on medical grounds. We are also guilty as we failed to take up his issue with the Principal Chief Conservator of Forest and Chief Wildlife Warden.," conservationist Joseph Hoover told TNM.
The conservationist said that he could not run to escape the elephant unlike his colleagues and that he was not trained to handle a situation like an elephant attack. "The government will give him ex-gratia compensation. But what is the worth of money when life itself is lost?," Joseph Hoover asked.
He urged the director of the Nagarhole Tiger Reserve to look into the reason he was posted on field duty and why his appeal was not considered.
The incident comes a week after a forest guard watcher and a volunteer were killed in an elephant attack in the Sathyamangalam Tiger Reserve. Satheesh Kumar (24) and volunteer Muthu Prabhakara Serapandiyan were attacked by a lone elephant. Another forest guard watcher also sustained grievous injuries in the attack.