Fifty days after it was washed away by a raging Brahmaputra and left stranded in Bangladesh, an Indian wild elephant died on Tuesday amid questions whether wildlife officials mishandled the case.
The adult elephant that was named ‘Bangabahadur’ died even as wildlife officials in Jamalpur district in northern Bangladesh were trying to move it to a safari park outside Dhaka for rehabilitation, said Tapan Kumar Dey, a former forest conservator, who was overseeing the rescue effort.
“Yes, it has died. We have failed to save it. We tried our best,” he told Hindustan Times on phone.
The cause of its death is not clear and Dey refused to provide details why exactly it died.
An autopsy could be conducted to know the reason of its death.
Local media reports said the elephant had slumped on Monday because of weakness brought on by its ordeal that began on June 27 when it swept away downstream from Assam’s Dhubri district by a flooded Brahamaputra.
Many villagers cried at the scene after the news of its death spread, local media reports said.
An Indian team which had gone to Bangladesh in the first week of this month to retrieve the stranded elephant had to abandon the mission.
The team failed to tranquilise it because it was in a riverine area and did not come out of the water because a lot of people had crowded the place.
The solitary elephant was under severe distress and had damaged property and crops in Bangladesh.
The animal was eventually tranquillized on August 11 by Bangladesh forest officials but became distressed and charged into a pond, where it then fell unconscious.
Villagers jumped into the water and helped to pull it out with ropes and chains to prevent it from drowning.
The elephant appeared to be fine on Sunday, Dey said, but was likely to have become dehydrated after being stuck in the swamp for days
Officials had said it was doing great after authorities intervened and gave it food.
Another forest official, Asim Mallick, rejected allegations that the elephant died because of mishandling of the rescue efforts.
“I don’t agree. Temperature is very high now. Elephants cannot bear too much heat. It was very feeble after of weeks of struggle for survival. We gave it normal food. It was eating those. We tried our best,” he said.