Rescued elephants united with large herd in the wild
Three wild elephants rescued from poachers in early February 2007 were successfully united with a large herd on Friday in a joint operation between IFAW/WTI and forest officials.
Forest officials rescued the three young elephants, aged between 5 and 7 years old, from a gang of poachers near the forests of Dibang division in Arunachal Pradesh state. The elephant poachers were trying to train the young elephants using cruel methods. The elephants were all trussed up with ropes and one had been badly injured.
A team of WTI (Wildlife Trust of India) veterinarians treated the injuries of the elephants and stabilized them for release. One of the elephants was radio collared for post-release monitoring and identification.
A temporary shelter was made at Bomjir, isolated from human contact, for their rehabilitation. The elephants fed themselves naturally from the wild during their stay. Before their release, dedicated staff searched the area for a suitable wild herd that would accept the elephants since it was difficult to find their natal herd.
Three Kunki elephants (captive elephants) were used to guide their young counterparts into the wild and they were released near a herd of 100 wild elephants deep inside the Dambuk forest reserve. They were later seen moving with the same herd, indicating that they are integrating with the herd and will now be much safer from poachers (safety in numbers).
Dibang and Pasighat forest divisions and Mehao Wildlife Sanctuary in Eastern Arunachal Pradesh form an important elephant habitat, supporting over 200 elephants. Arunachal Pradesh state overall has an approximate population of about 1600 wild elephants.