Two male elephant calves, both under three months old, were admitted to the International Fund for Animal Welfare/Wildlife Trust of India-run Wildlife Rescue Centre within 72 hours of each other. A few days prior, a female calf was admitted when efforts to reunite her with her herd were unsuccessful.
A two-and-a-half month old male elephant calf was rescued by the forest staff assigned to the areas of Majuli and Nimati near the river Brahmaputra. The severely stressed calf was saved from drowning by fishermen on one of the tributaries of the Brahmaputra.The forest staff took the calf to Major Chapori Island, the nearest island connected to the tributary, to attempt to reunite the calf with his natal herd.
However, despite waiting for some time, the herd did not turn up.
Seeing the condition of the calf, the forest officials kept him in a safe place overnight and shifted him the next morning to the other end of the river bank.
The Road to Recovery
The rescue centre team was informed about the calf and asked for support. Dr. Panjit Basumatary, the centre’s veterinarian, took stock of the calf and kept him in the large animal nursery for overnight observation.
“The calf weighed 140 kg (just under 300 pounds) and though no visible external injury was to be found he was under severe stress. To minimize the stress, he has been kept with another calf in the large animal nursery,” said Dr Panjit Basumatary.
Meanwhile within seventy two hours of this calf being admitted, another two-month-old male elephant calf was found in Majuli Island with injuries by the Jorhat Forest Division and was taken from the custody of the religious head of Dakhinpat Satra, one of the major institutions of Vaishnavaite culture of Assam.
The calf was reluctant to stand up. The wounded areas were visibly swollen and he was limping at every step.
The religious head wanted to keep the calf to himself. Finally, after a long discussion and informing him about the strict Wildlife (Protection) Act of 1972 regarding a Schedule I species like the elephant, he agreed to hand over the calf for its better care.
The Jorhat Forest Division, in turn, informed the rescue centre team and requested support.
“The calf was dehydrated. There were four prominent puncture wounds over the right and left lateral part of the right carpal joint as well as on the left elbow joint of the fore limb. Another puncture wound was observed over the left buttock. The calf was reluctant to stand up. The wounded areas were visibly swollen and he was limping at every step,” according to Dr Biswajit Boruah, the veterinarian who attended the case.
The calf weighs 300 pounds and has been kept in the large animal nursery.
A female elephant calf had been separated from its mother when it fell into a tea garden trench about one and a half miles from the Kalapahar Daigurung elephant corridor. The forest staff managed to rescue the calf and bring it to the nearest forest beat to stay clear of crowds.
Unfortunately the calf was deserted once again but found by the forest staff in the same tea garden the very next morning.
The IFAW-WTI MVS team of Karbi Anglong, led by Dr. Daoharu Baro, and an animal keeper with the forest team tried to reunite the calf with the herd the same evening. To everyone’s excitement, the calf was taken away into the forest by an elephant but to ensure the reunion was successful, the team decided to keep watch for the next 48 hours.
The calf was deserted once again but found by the forest staff in the same tea garden the very next morning. The CWRC MVS team was informed and Dr. Panjit Basumatary and animal keepers rushed to the spot to support the baby for survival.
“The calf was in severe stress. We took utmost care for her betterment and shifted to CWRC. The animal was kept in the nursery with an animal keeper overnight. No abnormality was shown by the calf except stress,” said Dr. Panjit Basumatary.
With the admission of these three new elephant calves, CWRC now has a total of ten calves, of which three are male and seven are female. These calves are being hand raised to be rehabilitated back to the wild.