Five Elephants Released in Manas, Keepers Mourn the Loss of One

An Asian elephant calf feeds in India.

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.

Keepers lit candles for the loss of one of the six elephant calves, Deepa.

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.

-- MB

For more information on IFAW efforts to help elephants around the world, visit

Comments: 4

6 years ago

So sad to hear that Deepa will not be with her other ele friends. My heart goes out to the other five who will be missing her deeply too. They will need to live the life for her.

7 years ago

No it doesn't.
If you're interested, go to the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust and read some of their updates. They rear orphans for as long as needed and then they go off in the wild. Often, they return to say hello or they'll come back if hurt, in the odd circumstances.
Deepa having cardiac arrest has nothing to do with her supposed move into the wild that she was to partake in.
Ele's can be okay one minute and not the next, unfortunately.

7 years ago

but this raises questions of releasing hand raised elephants in the wild.

7 years ago

That is sad and happy news indeed. I choose to believe that Deepa has moved on to a new life of pure freedom without care. She was deeply loved and that's most important.

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