Arrival of hand-reared elephant calves to contribute to national park's resurgence in India
Four orphaned Asian elephant calves were moved to Manas National Park this week by the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) and Wildlife Trust of India (WTI) in association with the Assam Forest Department. The elephants will be gradually reintegrated to the wild.
These elephant calves, three females and one male were rescued from different areas in the Northeastern state of Assam and under various circumstances that led to separation from their natal herds. The injured and emaciated animals were taken to the IFAW Wildlife Rescue Center in Kaziranga for care and rehabilitation.
The orphaned calves were bottle fed and hand raised at the center for the past five years. They are now weaned from milk and ready for the next phase of their rehabilitation process.
“The elephant rehabilitation program is one of our best animal welfare achievements in the region,” said Dr. Bhaskar Choudhury, IFAW-WTI Regional Head – Northeast India. “We have rehabilitated 10 hand-reared elephants since 2006, and have got evidence of some of these animals integrated with wild herds in Manas National Park.”
The four elephants were fitted with radio collars to track their movement and activities. Initially they will spend time in a pre-release area and will go for regular ‘walks’ in the forest with their keepers. During this process the calves will get opportunities to interact wild elephants and begin their gradual reintegration into wild herds.
During the severe civil conflict in the 1980’s and 1990’s, many species in Manas National Park were decimated, leading UNESCO to declare it a World Heritage Site in danger. Since the early 2000’s when peace was restored in the region, IFAW-WTI has been assisting in a variety of wildlife welfare and conservation programs such as the reintegration of elephants, and has helped Manas shed its ‘in danger’ tag.