In India, rescued elephant calf isn't shy when calling for her bottles

Ready for dinner: a rescued elephant calf eagerly awaits her next bottle.The first I saw of her was her trunk peeping out of a window.

It’s a rather strange behavior…like she is missing the outdoors and the wild, and is trying to get as much of it as possible from her quarantine room at our wildlife rescue centre in Assam.

She would stretch out the muscular 1.5 feet long nose and feel things that she could reach – the window sill, the glass pane, the iron grill…

Sometimes she would wound it around the grill and rub her eyes with the prehensile upper lip, while her mouth is wide open, seemingly expecting her food.

Our animal keeper, Bhadreshwar ensures her well-being. He feeds her every two hours or so (or when she ‘calls out’ for feeding) – two big bottles of milk.

In her excitement, she spills the milk all over her face and her room.

Bhadreshwar cleans it diligently after every feeding.

“She loves going out,” he says.

“But she is very young to join the other older elephant calves at the centre, but we have begun introducing her to them. We take her out during the day for walks in the woods nearby and keep her in an outdoor enclosure for a few hours and then bring her back to her room. Once she starts nibbling on grass, we can let her out with the other calves.”

There are four more elephant calves at our centre – Jhakhala, Rani, Tora and Dev, who are housed in the open enclosure at night; during the day they are out in the woods.

She was rescued as a two-month old calf.

Alone.

Stuck on a sand bar in the massive Brahmaputra river in Assam.

Presumably swept away while her natal herd crossed the river, she was rescued by some locals who had heard her screams.

She was admitted to our rescue centre on February 26th this year.

Since then our centre veterinarians and animal keepers have been attending to her. If she was traumatised during her rescue, she doesn’t show any sign of that now. Her other ailments – naval and urinary tract infection, and dehydration, also have been cured.

She appears pretty comfortable in the company of Bhadreshwar.

My presence however seems to unnerve her a bit.

I try not to be seen by her as much as possible, but find myself lurking around her room quite often. I cannot help but peep through her window when her trunk is not peeping out at me.

During late afternoons, I find her sound asleep, lying prostrate on her right flank and facing the same window.

As the sound of my camera clicking wakes her up, she promptly stands up, heads towards the window, and stretches her trunk out… as if calling out to Bhadreshwar – its time to tend to her again!

--SS

For more information about our efforts to rehabilitate and release animals back into the wild in India, visit our project page.

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Experts

Céline Sissler-Bienvenu, Director, France and Francophone Africa
Director, France and Francophone Africa
Dr. Cynthia Moss, IFAW Elephant Expert
IFAW Elephant Expert
Grace Ge Gabriel, Regional Director, Asia
Regional Director, Asia
James Isiche, Regional Director, East Africa
Regional Director, East Africa
Jason Bell, Program Director, Elephants Regional Director, South Africa
Program Director, Elephants, Regional Director, South Africa
Peter Pueschel, Director, International Environmental Agreements
Director, International Environmental Agreements
Vivek Menon, Director of IFAW partner, Wildlife Trust of India
Regional Director, South Asia