Abandoned elephant calf’s future remains distraught


The Hitavada

state office

Raipur/Surguja (Jashpur),

The Surguja forest authority has been in trouble for allegedly delaying the reunion of the one-month-old elephant calf with its mother.

Earlier, Forest Minister Mohammed Akbar had ordered the Principal Chief Conservator of Forest (PCCF) Wildlife to reunite a one-month-old elephant calf with its mother. The elephant calf was separated from its herd about a month ago in the forest of Jashpur Forest Division. Since then it has been housed in a rescue center. However, Narsing Rao, the chief conservator of the forest (wildlife), refuted this while speaking to The Hitavada

allegations and explained that they are doing their best to ensure the calf is optimally fed and cared for before it is released into the wild, otherwise it might not survive. It is worth recalling that Raipur-based animal and environmental activist Nitin Singhvi and People for Animal founders Kasturi Ballal, Sankalp Gaidhani, Ruchita Rajpal and others submitted a memorandum to the Minister of Forestry telling him that the elephant calf has been separated from its family/mother and strays to Samdada village. A few villagers fed it milk and even tried twice to release it in the forest, but the calf returned to the village. It was believed that the mother elephant did not accept the human-scented calf. The environmentalists claim that the Forest Service made no scientific effort to reunite the elephant calf with its herd. According to Singhvi, experts often smear the calf with elephant dung from the herd and keep it in a paddock so the mother can easily find the calf. This process often has to be repeated several times before it is successful. However, the Surguja Forest Service has kept the elephant calf at a rest house in Tapkara. Singhvi claims that the Forest Service seems more interested in confining the baby elephant at Tamor Pingla Rescue Center than releasing it into the wild. Sighvi raised a few questions about how the calf is being treated at the sanctuary. He wants to know why the elephant isn’t kept in a large enclosure with green netting? Why is the calf getting milk in a plastic wrap and not in a bottle? He wanted to know if there was a bank account where donations could be made in order to buy the milk bottle worth about Rs 12,000/- each. He wanted to know why the calf is surrounded by so many people who aren’t wearing gloves and knowing that if it gets human smell in its body it will never be accepted back into the herd? Finally, Singhvi claims that the calf should sleep on the concrete floor instead of a bed of grass. He added that the Expert Veterinary Doctors were brought to the sanctuary with a four-day delay. The animal lovers urged the forest minister to speed up attempts to reintroduce the elephant calf to the herd, adding that the decision to keep it at the sanctuary should be a last resort and only on the recommendation of an experienced veterinarian. The services of Wildlife Institute of India, Wildlife Trust of India and Mathura-based Wildlife SOS can also be enlisted. Meanwhile, speaking to The Hitavada over the phone, PCCF Narsingh Rao claimed the department is doing its best to ensure the calf recovers to health and grows strong enough to be reintegrated into its herd. They have claimed that the doubts expressed by Singhvi are unfounded and they only feed and medicate the calf for its own benefit. “A dedicated team of forest officials including Chief Conservator of Forest (CCF) Surguja, Divisional Forest Officer (DFO) Jashpur Jitendra Upadhyay, Veterinarian Pawan Kumar Chandan and several others are working day and night dedicatedly to reorganize under proper supervision having the calf tended to by other experts, following the procedural methods often used in such delicate rescue operations,” he assured. Nature lovers stressed conducting a detailed study to find out exactly how the calf was separated from the family and why its mother is not taking the calf back so the data could be used for elephant conservation in the future. According to experts, elephant calves that are orphaned or separated from their herds often end up in sanctuaries. They are kept in large enclosures with enough trees and mud puddles to play with. They are fed bottle milk and large beds made of straws and green leaves to sleep on. Elephants are highly sensitive and one of the most intelligent species with a strong memory. Any childhood trauma can go a long way in shaping their future lives, and therefore utmost care must be taken to maintain them

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