Stranded Indian Elephant Rescued By Bangladesh Forest Officials

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Stranded Indian Elephant Rescued By Bangladesh Forest Officials

An Indian elephant was rescued by a Bangladeshi forest department team.


Dhaka:  An Indian elephant on Thursday was rescued by a Bangladeshi forest department team after more than six weeks of frantic efforts since the female tusker was washed across the border by gushing flood waters to languish in swamps.

"We have succeeded in our efforts to rescue the giant elephant this afternoon," forest department's wildlife inspector Ashim Mollick told PTI.

He said forest department's veterinary Surgeon Syed Hossain shot the elephant with a tranquilising gun at Dhanata village of northern Jamalpur district.

The official, who was familiar with the rescue efforts, said the elephant initially appeared agitated after receiving the tranquiliser and moved indiscriminately for nearly an hour it fell unconscious.

"Losing its consciousness, the elephant fell in a ditch at Koira village, one and half kilometers off the scene where it was shot," an eyewitness said.

He said forest officials joined by enthusiast villagers tied up the elephant with ropes after dragging the animal, weighing about four tonnes, off the ditch.

"For the past several weeks the elephant travelled several thousand miles in a hostile situation since the flood waters drove it out from India's Assam state... it now needs some rest and good food to regain the health," chief forest conservator Yunus Ali said over phone.

Mr Ali said for the next several days the giant wild animal would be kept shackled to be treated.

"We are yet to take a decision what we will do with the elephant.. we will let you know once the decision is taken," the forest chief said.

Last week, Ali said India can take it back if possible, "otherwise we will keep the elephant", as he pointed out two cases in 2004 and 2013 in which one attempt to return an elephant succeeded while another died on its way back.

An expert team from India led by a retired chief forest conservator of theirs on July 4 joined the Bangladeshi team in rescuing the elephant but left the scene three days later.

According to officials, the elephant was stranded in waters which disrupted the joint rescue mission as it could not be driven to a dry piece of land to be tranquilised for treatment and transportation.

Forest officials earlier said the elephant remained calm despite being tired though it showed some signs of abnormal behaviour as it was forced to live in swamps for weeks despite being habituated in hilly forest environment.

A huge crowd of people took makeshift refuge on higher lands at the scene leaving their homes inundated by flood waters. The elephant crossed the common Brahmaputra River on June 27 and soon grabbed media attention as it was followed by hundreds of people in boats every day requiring police deployment to keep it undisturbed. In the past 456 days, it roamed along the river shoals and swamps in three northern districts.


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