Five Elephants Released in Manas, Keepers Mourn the Loss of One
Yesterday morning, as five rescued elephant calves took their first steps towards a life of freedom the IFAW-WTI team's thoughts were on one that didn't make it.
Deepa, a six-year old female elephant calf died after suffering congestive heart failure shortly after being loaded onto the transport truck. It was meant to be a day of pure celebration, but this unexpected turn of events had a devastating impact on all of us involved. The vets on the scene did everything they could to resuscitate Deepa but to no avail.
With the team's morale out for the count, we still had to focus on the other five elephants that were already loaded and would embark on a long road trip. This tragic event was the first of many obstacles along the way.
Not even three miles from the Center, the head vet Dr. Bhaskar Choudhury had to make the tough call of bringing in another vehicle, in the middle of the night, to separate two elephants who were not traveling well together. Disturbed by Deepa's loss, the staff took extra precautions placing a vet inside each trailer, next to the elephants and stopping every 2-5 km to make sure that things were going well for them.
We took more than 10 hours to cover the 450 km separating Kaziranga from Manas and while the five elephants peacefully stepped out of the vehicles and into their new home, our minds were on Deepa. We are all well aware of the inherent risks involved in translocating wildlife, and although it comes with the territory there is really no way to prepare for such a thing.
A few hours after arriving, the elephants were walked through the forest to a nearby stream and at that same time, two keepers back at the forest station lit candles in memory of the sixth elephant meant to be there with them.
For more information on IFAW efforts to help elephants around the world, visit www.ifaw.org