Champa at Makulakocha in happier times
One of the three female elephants, rescued from the clutches of unlicensed mahouts in Jamtara in 2010, passed away at Makulakocha rehabilitation centre under Dalma Wildlife Sanctuary on Sunday.
Vets are yet to ascertain how 50-year-old Champa died.
Ranchi DFO Kamlesh Pandey said the female, which shared her enclosure with three other elephants, was fine until Friday, but took ill from Saturday afternoon.
“On Friday morning, Champa roamed the sanctuary without any sign of stress. When she returned to her enclosure in the evening, she looked fine even then,” Pandey said.
As is ritual, Champa was once again released at 7.30am on Saturday. “But, she had trouble moving around. She stayed put at one place for almost two hours; then she sat down and could not get up. By afternoon, she was really sick,” the DFO said.
Sanctuary officials quickly summoned Champa’s mahout Siraz Ansari who informed the forest department.
“Subsequently, the elephant was administered saline and given antibiotics, but in vain. She died around 4am today (Sunday),” Pandey said.
The forester said that they had engaged two vets to conduct the post-mortem at Makulakocha to ascertain what caused Champa’s death.
“She did not have marks of injury on her body and was under constant watch of three mahouts. So, it is almost impossible that she was poisoned or was the victim of any such foul play. However, nothing can be said conclusively before we receive the autopsy report,” Pandey added.
Tata zoo vet Manik Palit, one of the two conducting the post-mortem, refused to comment on the cause of death. “The autopsy is still on. We will be able to submit our report to forest officials only on Monday,” he said.
A senior forest official, however, observed that Champa’s death was not normal.
“Generally, an elephant lives up to be 80 years old, but she died at 50. It is possible that the elephant got sick because she was staying in adverse conditions,” he said, requesting anonymity.
Champa shared the enclosure with two other rescued elephants from Jamtara — Basanti and Pagli — besides a four-year-old calf called Rajni.