Exhausted, weak wild elephant prefers to stay close to humans

An injured and weakened wild female Asian elephant is apparently preferring to stay close to humans instead of its merry band.

Mitoon Chowdhurybdnews24.com
Published : 12 May 2022, 07:38 PM
Updated : 12 May 2022, 07:38 PM

It is a highly unusual behaviour for a wild female elephant as adult females, according to the National Geographic magazine, in the wild live in close-knit family herds, but adult males tend to roam on their own.

Perhaps, the elephant remembered how the humans helped her the last time around, as the Forest Department on Apr 30 rescued it, 24 hours after it was stuck in a muddy ditch at the foothill of the Kodaly Tea Estate in Chattogram's Rangunia.

Elephants are known for their steel-trap memories.

Though the elephant, believed to be 12 years old, immediately ran back to the wild after being rescued, it was spotted again on May 4, stuck in a similar fashion in another ditch within the boundaries of the same tea estate, according to members of the Forest Department.

Perhaps the ongoing heat wave, baking most parts of the Indian sub-continent, is somehow making the elephant revisit an apparent deathtrap, as elephants around the world are found rolling around the mud during hot summer days. They find it difficult to cool off under the scorching sun due to a lack of body hair and sweat glands.

According to experts, the mud not only cools them down but also provides a protective layer on their bodies to shield them from insect bites.

The elephant in question was rescued with the help of locals on May 5 and Forest Department officials administered treatments for the injury it had sustained during her desperate struggle to escape the ditch.

The elephant was released back into the wild on May 7, but it was spotted again by locals a day later.

Forester Masud Kabir of the department’s Rangunia range told the bdnew24.com the female elephant is preferring to stay closer to humans for some unknown reason.

“We had spotted a herd of ten to twelve elephants roaming nearby for the last few weeks and the rescued elephant was a part of it. The herd is nowhere to be seen now which basically means they went back inside the deep forest. But this one [the female elephant] chose to stay behind,” he said.

Forest Officer Mintu Kumar Dey of Narincha said the female spent a night with its herd but came back near the human habitats.

It is currently under the care and supervision of the Forest Department at Rangunia Upazila’s Jamilabad Nurer Ghona area.

According to Masud Kabir, the elephant, which already looks exhausted and weak, is struggling to consume the food it requires to survive.

“We [Forest Department] had administered saline since it [the elephant] was exhausted. Now, it consumes a little grass regularly, which is not enough,” he said.

An adult elephant can consume up to 300 pounds of food in a single day and travel great distances to look for large quantities of food that they require to sustain their massive bodies.

A veterinary surgeon, affiliated with the Department of Livestock Services, or DLS, in Dhaka assumes that the elephant may have developed an infection within its mouth.

The surgeon, Syed Hossain, was visiting his hometown Rangunia when the elephant was rescued for the first time on Apr 30.

He said: "That elephant looked weak the first time I saw it. It may have developed an oral infection.”

Several Forest Department officials have said they are preparing to move the elephant to Dulahazara Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujib Safari park in Cox’s Bazar as soon as it gains some strength to be moved.

Meanwhile, a local had sustained minor injuries when the elephant hit the man, identified by a single name Lokman, with her trunk.

[Written in English by Adil Mahmood]

Toufique Imrose Khalidi
Editor-in-Chief and Publisher