Two elephant calves at CWRC. Telegraph picture
Jorhat, April 11: Four orphaned elephant calves, which were hand-raised at the Centre for Wildlife Rehabilitation and Conservation (CWRC) near Kaziranga National Park, were shifted to Manas National Park today to be released in the wild.
The four elephants, three female and a male aged between three and five and a half years, will be kept in pre-release enclosures at Manas before being released in the wild.
“We have not decided as to when the elephants will be released in the wild. We will wait for the elephants to get used to the new environment and will take a decision then,” a Wildlife Trust of India official told The Telegraph today.
The CWRC, which is the only such centre in the country, is run by the International Fund for Animal Welfare and Wildlife Trust of India.
The four elephants were rescued from different places while they were calves and were subsequently being hand-raised at the centre. “We took utmost care in raising these elephants so that they do not lose their wild instinct,” the official said.
Five elephants were shifted from CWRC to Manas earlier and released in the wild.
These elephants were later seen socialising with wild herds at Manas, which proved that orphaned wild elephant calves that end up in human care could be successfully returned to the wild.
“We saw the elephants mixing with the wild herds,” he said.
All the released elephants were radio collared and their movements monitored.
The WTI official said four elephants, which were shifted today, would be kept in a boma (special enclosure) at Manas and would be taken for walks by the keepers for acclimatisation till the time comes for their release.
The four elephants started their journey from CWRC last evening and reached Manas this morning.
“A health check-up was conducted before they were loaded up in trucks. Animal keepers and veterinarians also accompanied the elephants during the journey,” the CWRC official said.
WTI has been taking the initiative to rehabilitate marooned and abandoned elephant calves since over a decade now.
While many of the calves were reunited with their natal herds almost immediately after their rescue, a few are hand-raised at CWRC before being released in the wild.
“Our first effort is to reunite the calf with the herd from which it gets separated but when we fail to do so we hand-raise it at the centre till the right age for release in the wild,” the official said.