Jharkhand: Forest dept in a fix after elephant calf loses way, takes refuge in orchard
Forest officials, who had rescued the animal from a 25-foot-deep well on Monday, now fear for its safety. The pachyderm is hiding in a guava orchard at Nawadih village and angry residents allege that it is destroying their winter crop.india Updated: Dec 15, 2017 18:51 IST
A lost elephant calf has taken refuge near a village in Jharkhand’s Gumla district after it failed to rejoin its herd in the last three days.
Forest officials, who had rescued the animal from a 25-foot-deep well on Monday, now fear for its safety. The pachyderm is hiding in a guava orchard at Nawadih village, and angry residents allege that it is destroying their winter crop.
The two-year-old calf was part of a nine-elephant herd that entered Gumla from Lohardaga on the night of December 9. The next day, the herd trampled to death a 38-year-old man, Mohar Oraon, at Hapamuni village under Ghagra block. The elephant calf fell into the well while crossing Panwari village on the morning of December 11, and the herd moved on without it.
“We wanted to take the elephant calf to its herd, but they disappeared in the Chainpur forest range about 35 kilometres away,” said Gumla forest official Ghanshyam Chourasia, who has been tasked with protecting the animal.
Forest officials are yet to determine if the pachyderm is male or female.
Meanwhile, people from surrounding areas continue to throng the area – scaring the elephant calf. “It tries to go back the way it came, but invariable returns after travelling a few hundred metres. The animal seems unable to recognise the route,” said Gumla divisional forest officer (DFO) Ajit Kumar Singh.
Singh said he held a meeting with villagers on Thursday, during which he advised them against hurting the calf. “Forest officials have also been deputed there for the elephant’s security,” he said, adding that they are consulting a mahout from Ranchi zoo to better understand its behaviour.
Forest officials have decided to let the elephant remain in the guava orchard for the next few days. “If we still aren’t able to trace the herd, we will consider sending it to Ranchi zoo or the Betla National Park in Palamu. The animal will have to be heavily tranquilised for transportation,” said Singh.