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Saline, khichdi restore injured 2-year-old

- One mowed down, other stands up in survival battle

Alipurduar, Dec. 3: Saline for two days, then 5kg khichdi in one day.

It’s the diet of a two-year-old injured elephant calf that is fast recovering in Jaldapara wildlife sanctuary.

The calf had been undergoing treatment since Wednesday for an eye injury it suffered in Buxa. It was shifted to Jaldapara the next day for better care.

But the 70km journey in a truck proved too much for the two-year-old. After it was bought to Jaldapara, the calf slumped on its haunches, making foresters worried about its survival.

It was unable to stand up. Saline and antibiotics were administered on Thursday and Friday.

Indranil Bera, the veterinary surgeon who checked on the calf when it reached Jaldapara, said its body temperature kept fluctuating and blood and fluid kept on oozing out of its eye wound. “I am sure that the wound was caused by a sharp metal object and it is almost 12 inches deep. It would have been good if we could do a scan of its head. But we don’t have that facility. The next 24 hours are crucial,” he had said on Thursday.

But on Saturday, the calf started showing signs of improvement. It stood up. Then it started swallowing khichdi and finished 5kg of it.

The young animal has been having the same amount each day from then. Foresters said the calf was also being given grass since yesterday.

Rajendra Jakhar, the divisional forest officer, wildlife-III, said on Saturday: “I never thought the calf would be able to stand again. We can be hopeful about its survival. From my experience I can say that the wound is at least seven days’ old and it was not caused by an elephant tusk. We have formed a team of two doctors and the calf would be under observation round-the-clock.”

The vets are checking the calf at least twice a day. Two kunkis or pet elephants, Ramu and Sourav, have been kept near the calf as foresters said it was in shock as it got separated from its mother and needed to see other elephants to feel comfortable.

On Saturday the calf was given a hot shower and an oil massage. Apart from antibiotics, the calf is also being administered turmeric that is likely to heal the wound.

The animal was first spotted at Balapara in Volka range of Buxa reserve on Wednesday. It had a wound near the eye and had been abandoned by the herd to which it belonged.

The young animal was given antibiotics and saline throughout Wednesday night but on Thursday when no improvement was noticed, S.B. Mandal, the chief wildlife warden, instructed the BTR officials to shift the calf to Jaldapara east range for better treatment.

Deputy field director of Buxa (east) Bhashkar J.V. said: “Most probably the calf came from Assam as Balapara is on the Bengal-Assam border. It came in with the injury and we started treatment on Wednesday evening.”

In another incident, an injured tusker was spotted in Buxa on Saturday. Foresters said the elephant was limping. R.P. Saini, the field director of Buxa, said: “We had treated the elephant seven days ago. It was injured in an infighting with another tusker.”