The elephant calf at Tata Steel Zoological Park in Jamshedpur on Tuesday. Picture by Srinivas
Jamshedpur, Dec. 7: The rescued baby elephant undergoing treatment at Tata Steel Zoological Park is in urgent need of space.
The three-year-old has developed fibrosis on one foreleg, a disorder associated with being forced to remain immobile in a confined area for too long. The elephant has been kept at the zoo ever since its rescue from the banks of the Subernarekha river in Ichagarh block of Seraikela four months ago.
Speaking to The Telegraph, divisional forest officer of Seraikela Akhilesh Sharma said on the advice of vets, he had spoken to wildlife experts to find a way of moving the elephant elsewhere.
“We had earlier thought of shifting the calf to the elephant rescue centre at Makulakocha in the foothills of Dalma once it is in place. However, it may take two months for the rescue centre to become operational,” said Sharma.
Manik Palit, the Tata Zoo vet who is overseeing the elephant’s treatment, confirmed it was suffering from fibrosis. “The problem will disappear only if the animal is made to walk freely,” he said.
DFO Sharma said either the proposed rescue centre would have to be set up on a war-footing or an alternative space would have to be found for the calf.
“Except for the fibrosis, it is absolutely all right. But if we fail to give the calf more space, its condition may deteriorate,” said the forest officer. He added that he had explained the elephants plight in writing to senior forest officers and wildlife experts.
The calf cannot be released in the Dalma wildlife sanctuary because the wild elephants there may not accept its presence.
“As the calf has stayed out of a jungle for so long, it will not be accepted by the herd there,” said the forest officer.
The elephant had fallen into a pit after being separated from its herd on the banks of the Subernarekha. The villagers, in a bid to get rid of it, had prodded it with sharp weapons which left the calf with grievous wounds that took a long time to heal. It had even developed maggots. However, sustained care by the zoo staff and forest department officials ensured that the elephant was nursed back to health.
Sharma said Rs 1 lakh had been spent on treatment of the calf so far. “Despite a funds crunch, we have never scrimped on the calf’s medical expense,” said the DFO, adding that they would do everything possible to release the elephant in the wild fit and healthy.