Rescue unit reunites elephant calf with mother, herd in Kaziranga

A calf separated from his herd was guided toward trumpeting after nightfall.A four- to six-month-old male Asian elephant calf who had been separated from his mother and natal herd was reunited with them by International Fund for Animal Welfare-Wildlife Trust of India’s Mobile Veterinary Service (MVS).

MVS veterinarian Dr Jahan Ahmed responded to a small tea garden near Gomeri village in the Biswanath Charali district with animal keepers Doluk Dabang and Birkhe Bahadur and local Emergency Relief Network volunteer Amit Bhattarai.

The calf was found to be in good physical shape with no external injuries.

Conversations with villagers revealed that he had strayed into the fenced-in tea garden the previous night and been separated from his mother as the herd moved past Gomeri village. The mother had apparently returned to the area twice, but the presence of humans had deterred her from searching for the calf.

The MVS team, along with frontline staff from the Gomeri forest camp and Borgang range, located the natal herd about two to three kilometres from the tea garden. A decision was made not to disturb the calf by attempting to take it to the herd, rather to wait till nightfall when locals said the herd would likely move closer to the village.

READ: Rescue unit provides treatment, monitoring lone elephant in Kaziranga

The calf stayed at the tea garden with minimal human contact through the day, kept hydrated with coconut water. In the evening, some villagers had heard elephants trumpeting near the Brahmaputra River about a kilometre away. Having confirmed the herd’s presence, the team, along with forest department personnel, led the calf towards the riverbank.

It had started to drizzle. The calf was reacting violently to the light of torches and even cell phones, charging its escorts several times.

The team therefore walked on in pitch darkness, a few people in front of the calf and a few behind, guiding it towards the area where the other elephants had been heard.

As they neared the river an elephant trumpeted; the calf responded by trumpeting in turn and moving briskly towards the sound. The team returned to the village in the wee hours of the morning, coming back to the spot where they had last seen the calf. There was no sign of it and the sounds of elephants could be heard in the distance. At daybreak, the team again went to the same spot but the calf was still nowhere to be seen; villagers reported that they had seen the mother and calf together near the village’s periphery a few hours prior.

The MVS team left the scene for another rescue shortly afterwards, asking forest staff and villagers to keep an eye out for the calf. No reports that would make us believe the calf had separated again were received in the following days, so the calf was deemed to have been successfully reunited with its herd.


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