After the mother died, an elephant calf was abandoned by its herd and found in Tamil Nadu

Following the death of its mother elephant on Tuesday, an elephant baby in Sathyamangalam joined another herd of wild elephants; but, on Thursday morning, it broke away from the herd. It is being cared for in a natural setting at the Hassanur forest range office after being saved by the forest department employees.

The two-month-old female elephant calf is being cared for by a team of five veterinarians: S Sathasivam from Sathymangalam Tiger Reserve (STR), E Vijayaragavan from Anamalai Tiger Reserve (ATR), A Sukumar from Coimbatore Forest Division, K Rajesh Kumar from Mudumalai Tiger Reserve (MTR), and N Kalaivanan from Kalakkad Mundanthurai Tiger Reserve (KMTR).

“The animal was left alone in a natural setting at the Hassanur range office itself; it was not restrained on a tree. To keep the animal hydrated, we regularly provide lactogen and soft coconut in addition to drinking water. The animal is in good condition and is out and about,” a forest department representative said.

The plan to move the animal to Theppakkadu Elephant Camp in MTR, if requested by higher authorities, will proceed, according to K Rajkumar, Conservator of Forests and Field Director of Sathyamangalam Tiger Reserve (STR), who spoke with TNIE. The tribal people there have experience caring for abandoned calves.

Despite three attempts by the forest field level workers, assisted by elephant trackers from ATR and MTR, to reconnect the calf with another herd, the herd rejected the calf and left it behind.

A top forest authority claims that “We looked for a feeding mother elephant and a youngster of the same age amid a herd in the jungle after splitting off from the first herd. We located them, rejoined the calf elephant with two more herds, and carried out the whole operation till midnight. The calf was supposed to mix in with the third herd, right? But early on Thursday morning, the elephant baby broke away from the third herd and started to wander the road by itself.”

“We have rescued the elephant calf and transported it to the Hassanur forest range office which is 15 km away,” said the officer.

The founder of the environmental organization Osai and wildlife campaigner K Kalidass told TNIE that although it is unfortunate to have to put a wild elephant into captivity, there is no other choice after the forest service made significant attempts to reunite the young elephant with three herds. It failed, however, and the herd’s mother elephant had to decide whether to accept the youngster. The calf may have been separated for a variety of reasons, including their belief that it is a new member of the herd.

The majority of the time, calf survival is a struggle when the mother elephant abandons them, dies, becomes ill, or for any other cause.

Since the forest department’s efforts did not produce the desired outcomes in this instance, I believe that caring for the healthy newborn elephant in captivity with other elephants is the best course of action,” said Kalidass.

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