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Wanted: jumbo family of abandoned calf - Forest department may ask Tata zoo to adopt baby elephant if herd rejects it again

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By KUMUD JENAMANI in Jamshedpur
  • Published 4.10.09

Jamshedpur, Oct. 4: If the state forest department has its way and the injured baby elephant rescued from a Ghatshila village a bit of luck, the latter will soon be reunited with its family.

The department has put its officials posted at Rajabasa and Bhurudih jungles in Ghatshila on alert to locate the estranged family members of the calf, which is recovering at Tata Steel Zoological Park in Jamshedpur. Once the herd is spotted, efforts will be made to send the baby elephant back to it.

The calf was found injured from Rajabasa forest last Monday. It got separated from its herd and was rescued by local villagers.

A.T. Mishra, the divisional forest officer (DFO) of Dhalbhum, said though it was an uphill task to locate the herd and then make it accept the abandoned calf, they would try their best to put the animal where it belonged.

“We have asked our officials to remain on alert and find out whether the herd is searching for the calf at Rajabasa jungle, where the latter was found. A similar operation is on in nearby Bhurudih jungle,” said Mishra.

He added that after the herd was located, they would monitor the movements of the elephants until they felt it was the right time to release the calf so that it could reunite with its family.

Explaining the planned procedure, Mishra said: “As the calf has spent considerable time among humans, it will smell different to its herd members and may not be accepted by them. So, we will smear the animal with elephant dung to get rid of the human smell and then release it at the spot where the herd will be found.”

There is Plan B, too, if the calf is not welcomed back by its family. “We will recommend the calf to be kept either at Tata Steel Zoological Park or at Ranchi zoo,” the DFO said.

On the calf’s health, Mishra said that it was getting back to normal life and was quite active.

“The baby elephant no longer has fever or stomach problems. It is having milk and water and is even responding to the calls of zoo staff looking after it. It is moving all around the zoo treatment centre and has in fact, broken several flower pots,” Mishra said.

Manik Palit, the veterinary doctor who is treating the calf at the zoo, said the signs of its recovery were encouraging. He, however, added that though the animal was responding well to medicines, it might take about a month for it to cure completely.

“The wounds of the calf are healing and it is getting accustomed to the surroundings, which is a very good symptom,” Palit added.

He said that they were following the directives of the Wildlife Trust of India while treating the calf and the response has been satisfactory.