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Return of the baby in Charbatia

Mon, 01 Oct 2007 08:58:00
Biswajit Mohanty is a noted wild life expert. He shares his experiences after recently visiting the Charbatia forest.
By  
Biswajit Mohanty
Elephants in Orissa forest, Pic; Prasant Patnaik

Charbatia, (Cuttack) October 01 (Odisha.in) We rushed to a small forest village near Charbatia, in the Cuttack district, 40 kilometers from Orissa capital Bhubaneswar when we heard that an elephant calf   had been found stranded.

Arriving there we found an assorted crowd milling around a small tree. Going closer, I found a small baby elephant screaming her lungs out while numerous villagers tried to pacify her by caressing her body.

A forest guard was desperately trying to make the baby drink by jabbing into her mouth a beer bottle filled with milk.

The hungry baby was nervous, frightened by so many persons surrounding her. She was unable to drink the milk since she had never seen a beer bottle in her life.

I asked for a piece of old cycle tube which was put on the mouth of the bottle to make a makeshift nipple which we gave the baby to drink.

She was hungry being without food for the last five hours and started sucking the bottle drinking the entire bottle in no time.

Gathering from local reports we found that a herd of elephants had been crop raiding the previous night and had run away when the villagers raised a ruckus, leaving the calf behind in their haste. 

 Now the question arose of what to do with the calf. It was decided that the best option was to release the baby into the wild. However, I very well knew that wild elephants rarely accepted a member who carries human scent. Would the herd accept her?

We had information that the herd was nearby on the top of the surrounding hills. The baby was taken near the foothills and left alone in the jungle at about 4:00 p.m.  All of us watched from a safe distance as the baby screamed out expecting the herd to respond to her distress calls.

A little later when the sun was about to set a group of 10 elephants came towards the baby cautiously sniffing the air for danger. We held our breath in excitement .Would they accept her?

A bold tusker among them marched up to the calf and started curiously sniffing her. He recoiled a bit obviously offended by the strong smell of human hands which must have assailed her sense organs and taught her to avoid at all times.

 However, there seemed to be a sort of pachyderms' conference going on, the entire group milling around and trying to make up their minds.
 
In the meanwhile the cute baby had happily run up to her mother who was wild with joy to get back her darling. She made deeply satisfied sounds as her trunk played over the calf checking her for any injury.The calf wrapped her little trunk around her mother's legs with a deep sense of relief of having joined the herd.

Finally, the tusker came forward and gave a gentle push with his leg to the calf bidding her to follow the group as they marched up the hill.

The hills echoed with the magnificent trumpeting of the happy pachyderms as they disappeared into the forest. All of us exchanged thankful smiles relieved that they accepted her back.

Odisha.in

Also read : The magnificent teak forests of Barbara

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