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Rescued calf dies in Gorumara

Siliguri, Nov. 4: A two-month-old male elephant calf died this morning at Gorumara, nearly 20 days after it was abandoned by a herd in Odlabari Tea Estate.

The calf, named Kojagar, had been rescued by the forest department and kept at the pet elephant camp of the national park, 30km from the Odlabari garden. In July, another calf, Ganeshi, rescued by the forest department had died.

Kojagar had been found in a five-foot deep drain of the tea plantation close to Chel compartment of the Targhera forests on October 12.

“Since it had been deprived of its mother’s milk, it was weak and lacked immunity. Vets and our men at the elephants’ camp tried their best to save it, but could not. It died at 4.30 this morning,” said Tapas Das, the divisional forest officer (wildlife-II). “A post-mortem has revealed that the animal was suffering from gastro-enteritis and also had some problems in the intestinal tract.”

The 100-strong herd — Kojagar was also part of it — had entered the Odlabari area in the beginning of October. For the few days it was around, the herd ransacked a number of estates, uprooting tea bushes. One of the gardens that bore the brunt of the marauders was the Odlabari estate, located 45km from here. The foresters who had gone to steer the elephants into the forests had spotted the calf in the drain. It was provided with water and three bottles of saline.

The foresters waited till the evening and when the herd did not come back to claim it, arrangements were made to transport it to Gorumara.

“We had sent the calf near the herd where they could not have missed its cries. But even then, the older elephants did not come near it,” Das said.

Although there were no marks of external injury on the calf, foresters had been apprehensive about it’s health.

“Elephants do not usually abandon calves that are fit and healthy,” Das said. “But if the mother senses that there is any problem with the baby, it would leave the calf behind.”

The fate of Ganeshi, rescued from the Bengdubi forest in the Terai close to Bagdogra on June 30, was almost similar. The female calf, too, had been abandoned by the herd. The animal was suffering from ulcers in the abdomen and had a deficiency of red blood cells. It died at the pet elephants’ camp in Gorumara on July 7.

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