Six rescued jumbo calves to be released soon

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NEW DELHI: Six elephant calves, who were orphaned after their parents died in train mishaps and man- animal conflicts, are being hand raised at a rehabilitation centre for relocation to the wilds of nearby Manas sanctuary in Assam.

The soft-release is scheduled for February next year, said Dr Bhaskar Choudhury from Wildlife Trust of India (WTI) who is taking care of the calves at the Centre for Wildlife Rehabilitation and Conservation (CWRC).

The latest induction was of a wild elephant calf which was found alone near Goraimari village in Goalpara district by the locals early this month.

“It was among a herd of elephants that entered Goraimari, attracted by standing crops. It had fallen into a pond and was rescued by the people of Goraimari.

“As soon as we got the information, we dispatched a team of (Forest Department) officials who went to receive the calf along with police personnel, and also alerted the IFAW- WTI Mobile Veterinary Service (MVS) unit,” said Amol Sarma, Divisional Forest Officer, Goalpara.

As per rehabilitation protocol for displaced wild elephant calves, the forest officials attempted to reunite the calf with its herd, which at that time was about a kilometre away.

But fearing return of the herd to the village in case reunion was attempted, locals turned hostile and disrupted the process.

As a result, authorities were forced to transfer the calf to the Goalpara DFO office, where it was treated by the IFAW-WTI veterinary team.

“The calf is currently in good health. However, it is really unfortunate that we did not get the opportunity to reunite it with its herd. We have moved it to our field station in Kokrajhar,” said Dr Bhaskar Choudhury, Manager, WTI.

“There are reports of crop damage in hundreds of bighas of farmlands in Goraimari caused by elephants recently. The people were very aggressive and even threatened the authorities to keep away from the village,” he added.

Five hand-raised elephant calves, rescued in different instances in the state of Assam have already been released in the wild in Manas sanctuary over the last few years.

Large encroachment of forest areas in Assam is resulting in increased man-elephant conflicts forcing the jumbos to leave their habitat in search of food and sometimes destroy not only paddy fields but also houses in the villages.

It sometimes prompts villagers to attack the jumbos for their safety as well as protection of their crops.

Elephants are also victim to train hits according to the recently released Elephant Task Force (ETF) report of the environment ministry.

The country has lost a total of 150 elephants on railway tracks since 1987. The highest casualties have been recorded in Assam and West Bengal which constitute 36 per cent and 26 per cent respectively of the entire cases.

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This post was submitted by Mudit Agrawal.

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