Rambo is back at his usual haunts

Saturday, 26 October 2013 09:17 -     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

Recently Srilal Miththapala highlighted that Rambo, the elephant regularly sighted along the Udawalawe National Park bund, had gone missing and that there were concerns that he was sick and that something serious could have happened to him. Subsequently Rambo was sighted and treated by the veterinary Surgeon of the Department of Wildlife and was reported to be healing well. Srilal now gives an update Returning from Ella last week, I decided to take the route via Thanamalawila, so that I could pass the Udawalawe National Park, hoping to spot Rambo. I was not disappointed. There he was, back at his old haunt, on the side of the reservoir bund close to the electric fence. He was looking very old, and gaunt, the bones of his body visible on his emaciated frame. I reckon Rambo would not be more than 40-45 years at the most, recollecting the early days I saw him as a strong young bull in the 1980s. His strong physical appearance was what earned him his name, but with his placid and quiet demeanour, he never lived up to the character of his counterpart celluloid namesake. However, now recovering from some possibly life-threatening sicknesses, he looked far older than what he really was. I inspected him at really close quarters and saw that the gunshot wound in his belly had healed well and there was no sign of any pus or festering. His belly bulge, possibly due to infection and accumulation of fluid, had also reduced considerably. He seemed to be having a small infection of his left eye, or possibly it was a cataract that was forming. But otherwise he seemed quite all right, and readily accepted the bananas and other fruit that the passers-by were giving him, in his customary fashion. But I did notice that he was now eating grass, in between his solicited ‘tit-bits’. This was still woefully inadequate, but was a good sign all the same, that he was supplementing himself with much-needed vegetation and fibre. As I gazed at him, and looked deep into his half-closed eyes, I realised that whatever we may try to do, Rambo’s days are now numbered. In fact I felt that we should let him be on the bund, where he has spent his last few years, rather than trying to rehabilitate him back into the jungle by trying out various schemes at this late stage of his life. It will only cause him stress and disrupt his daily routine. We made him a ‘beggar’ by acclimatising and habituating him to us humans. Now let us leave him alone. He is happy, and contented with life, watching the world go by, standing on the side of the bund, and still giving passers-by a one-of-a-kind unforgettable experience of seeing a wild elephant so close up. He has done his bit to create awareness about the plight of his kith and kin to the world and I think we should manage this situation, learn from the mistakes and let nature take its course with Rambo, my friend.