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Rescued calf returns to herd

Jorhat, Aug. 6: An elephant calf — which got stuck in a drain inside a tea garden in Golaghat district — was rescued by forest department officials with help from workers of the tea estate, and subsequently reunited with the herd.

This incident took place at Numaligarh tea estate a few days ago when a month-old calf fell into the drain as the herd of about 40 elephants was crossing the tea estate.

An official of the tea estate said he heard at least two elephants trumpeting in desperation from a particular area of the tea estate and the rest of the herd was waiting some distance away.

“I immediately sensed something was wrong and informed the forest department. I also alerted the labourers to move away from the location,” the official said.

Soon after the arrival of forest department personnel, a team comprising forest staff and a few workers went to the location and found that the calf was stuck inside a drain and was unable to move.

“We had to act fast to save the calf and fired crackers and asked the labourers to beat drums to chase away the herd so that we could rescue the calf,” Pratap Saikia, beat officer of Numaligarh forest beat under Golaghat territorial division, said. The sound of the crackers scared off the herd, which waited at a distance. Wasting no time, the forest guards and garden workers immediately rescued the calf from the drain. The herd waited at a distance.

After examining the calf for injuries and finding none, the team left the calf where the herd could notice it.

“After waiting for a while we noticed a few elephants, led by a female, approaching the calf. They started sniffing the calf. A while later, the entire herd approached the calf and, probably reassured, they left with it,” the forest official said.

The tea garden official said elephants pass through the garden regularly and it has become a normal affair for the workers to work with elephants around. “We have instructed the workers not to disturb elephants. It is because of timely action by our workers that the calf was saved,” Vikash Joshi, general manager of Jorehaut Tea Company Limited, to which Numaligarh tea estate belongs, said.

An official of the Centre for Wildlife Rehabilitation and Conservation (CWRC) said the prompt action by tea garden workers had made it possible for the calf to reunite with the herd. “Our first aim while rescuing an (elephant) calf is to reunite it with the herd. Only when the reunion is unsuccessful, the individual is admitted to CWRC for hand-rearing and long-term rehabilitation,” the CWRC official said. Till date, CWRC has assisted the forest department in reuniting 14 elephant calves with their natal herds. And seven permanently displaced calves have been hand-reared and released in the wild. Currently, six elephant calves are being hand-reared at the centre.


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