Sonitpur, Assam: Last week, animal lovers across the country were shocked to see television channels airing heart rendering visuals of a three month old elephant calf clinging to the body of its dead mother in Assam.
The elephant had died after falling into a pit with her calf at the construction site of Yoga guru Ramdev's Patanjali Herbal Park in Ghoramari of Assam's Sonitpur district.
The elephant had died after struggling to get out of the pit for 19 long hours.
"We will lodge an FIR against the construction firm, Patanjali is not directly involved. They commissioned the construction work," Assam Forest Minister Pramila Rani Brahma told NDTV.
Contractors assigned by Ramdev's firm quickly filled up the pits. They were unavailable for comments when NDTV tried to contact them.
"When such a big projects coming up, authorities have to be alert. They drive the elephants from one side and never keep watch. Everyone knows about the presence of elephants in this area," said Juddhabahadur Chettri, a local villager in Ghoramari, where the construction of the Rs 1300 crore herbal park is still underway.
The human-elephant conflict in Assam has seen a steep rise in the recent times. Due to large scale deforestation for the construction of villages, elephants have lost their natural habitats that had remained untouched till 2014.
"Sonitpur district has lost 70 percent of its forest thus elephants were taking refuge here," said Hiten Biashya, Co-ordinator of the Elephant Conservation Project of WWF India in Assam.
The Asian elephants of Assam have been declared 'endangered' by the International Union for Conservation of Nature or IUCN.
According to the elephant census, there were 5620 in 2011.
As many as 140 elephants have died 'unnaturally' in Assam between 2013 and 2016.
Currently, a team of veterinary physicians are looking after the calf which lost its mother in the incident at the Centre for Wildlife Rehabilitation and Conservation (CWRC) run by the Wildlife Trust of India (WTI) near Kaziranga National Park.