UPDATED: A Ray of Hope as Rescued Newborn Elephant Calf Recovers
From IFAW-WTI field communications officer in Northeast India, Sashanka Barbaruah:
As the precocious baby grows up into a healthy elephant, makes friendships with some likely animal counterparts and embarks on a journey to become one of the Center’s most loved animals, it feels good to see him grow and learn the basics of survival.
The little calf “Dev” munched his first blade of grass today while walking with his keeper. He had a long walk within the centre premises while the herd of three other calves came near to him. He followed the same behavior as the rest three while they were grazing.
The diet of a new born baby elephant calf is entirely its mother’s milk. They do not start eating grass and other vegetation at least until they are a few months old. Dev is no exception as he needs to be bottle–fed milk every two hours. But for us it was good to see him imitating the herd.
The keeper describes Dev as bubbly and quick to learn. “I hope it learns its lessons fast and wish that the he grow into a huge, multi-ton, adult giant and return to the wild”.
Thanks to the keeper, Bhadreshwar and the centre veterinarian Dr. Abhijit who brought the calf back to health and filled its life with hope.
Going one step ahead to its recovery little "Dev" was allowed to mingle with the rest of the calves at the center. Dev seems to be enjoying the company of Junmoni, Tora and Dihing who have already welcomed Dev as the new member of the herd.
Bhadsreshwar Das, the animal keeper who is looking after the elephant calf presently said "At the onset we didn't expect, it would come so far and recover. But now Dev is recovering and we are taking him for daily walks within the center. It feels good to see him join with the group."
Though the wounds of the calf are healing fast, still it will take some time to get fully recovered. The calf is fed with milk with an interval of 2 hours.
UPDATE: June 14, 2011
For the first time, little Dev looks good. His wounds are healing fast. Dev was allowed to walk around today with the keeper. He has been in the quarantine area more than a month. The little guy was emotionally devastated and was slow to heal from his deep grief and depression from being orphaned.
But now that Dev has started walking with his keeper Bhadreshwar (who began fostering his trust) he is already displaying some typical ' baby tantrums ' to his keeper. Earlier, he looked so lost. Now finally, the calf is developing that bond when interacting with his keeper. He is just beginning to recover from his trauma.
The elephant was given a hot water bath today, after which the keeper applied turmeric powder to its wounds. The warm water helps in scrubbing the dead cells which further helps in generating new cells.
“Turmeric speeds up wound healing and assists in remodeling of damaged skin. It is a natural antiseptic and antibacterial agent, useful in disinfecting cuts and wounds”, said Dr. Abhijit Bhawal, an IFAW- WTI veterinarian who is looking after the calf.
For the first time I felt good spending time with the calf this afternoon. It was such a treat to say good night to him as he was settling into his small enclosure. -- SB
UPDATE: May 5, 2011
After all the sad news of elephant deaths in Assam over the last week, we see a ray of hope.
This is thanks to the concern and care of the International Fund for Animal Welfare Wildlife Rescue Center vets and keepers who are trying hard to save this little guys' life.
The elephant was given a hot salt water bath today. It seems the warm salty water helps to heal his wounds. Now he can stand up own his own without the help of any keeper and he's walking inside the quarantine room freely. However the stress and trauma he suffered through is still apparent as he continues to be very scared of loud noises.
Like human newborns, our patient needs to be bottle-fed milk every two hours. To help with his recovery, antibiotics and vitamins are also being provided regularly.
This calf was nearly dead when he was admitted to the Center, he was shaky and shivering. Now, it feels so good to see him walking and having milk without any complications, seeing him recover this way brings us all so much hope.
For more information on the International Fund for Animal Welfare effort to save animals in crisis around the world, visit http://www.ifaw.org