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Forest task in vain, tusker dies
- Cure fails to save the big one

Alipurduar, Aug. 8: The tusker which had collapsed in Buxa Tiger Reserve (west) apparently because of high fever day on Wednesday died this morning despite the efforts of the forest department to save its life.

When the jumbo fell down in a teak plantation, A.P. Singh, the deputy field director of the division, along with doctors, had rushed to the spot. Proloy Mandal, a veterinary surgeon of Jaladapara, was also called in to cure the animal.

As the elephant was running a high temperature, the officers staff poured cold water on the body for hours. The doctors also administered saline water to the tusker.

When the pachyderm moved its head, trunk and even the front legs yesterday, the doctors thought that the animal would soon be able to stand on its own.

As the tusker could move only its front portions and not the back part, the foresters brought two trained elephants, Nonai and Chanchal, to help it stand up. The guards had offered the pachyderm bananas and grass, but it did not eat them.

The forest officials have conducted a post-mortem on the body to diagnose the cause of the death. L.G. Lepcha, the field director of Buxa Tiger Reserve, said tissue samples would be sent to Central Forensic Science Laboratory in Calcutta and Apurbo Chakroborty of Assam Veterinary Hospital in Guwahati.

“We will be able to say what had caused the tusker’s death only after we received reports from these two laboratories,” the officer said.

Lepcha added that the body would be cremated later in the day.

He has asked the deputy field directors of the reserve’s east and west divisions to search the forest thoroughly to find if any other elephant has fallen ill.

Animesh Bose, the programme co-ordinator of Himalayan Nature and Foundation, has said it is imperative to ascertain the cause of the death since a few elephants had died last year also and it is still not clear what had caused their deaths.

He added that if the reason was found, precautionary measures could be taken to avert more elephant deaths.

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