Abandoned elephant calf’s future remains distraught
   Date :19-Sep-2022

The Hitavada
State Bureau
Raipur/Surguja (Jashpur), 
The Surguja Forest Department has landed itself in a mess for allegedly delaying the reunification of the one-month old elephant calf with its mother.
Earlier, the Forest Minister Mohammed Akbar had directed the Principal Chief Conservator of Forest (PCCF) Wildlife to reunite a one-month-old elephant calf with its mother. The elephant calf was separated from its herd in the forest of Jashpur Forest Division about a month ago. Since then it has been housed in a rescue centre. However, the Principal Chief Conservator of Forest (Wildlife), Narsing Rao, while speaking to ‘The Hitavada’, refuted the
allegations and stated that they are doing their best to nourish and nurse the calf to its optimum health before it is let out in the wild, otherwise, it may not survive. It is pertinent here to recall that Raipur-based wildlife/environment conservationist Nitin Singhvi and People for Animal founder Kasturi Ballal, Sankalp Gaidhani, Ruchita Rajpal and others had given a memorandum to the Forest Minister, telling him about the elephant calf being separated from its family/mother and straying into village Samdada. A few villagers fed it milk and even attempted twice to release it in the forest, but the calf came back to the village. It was assumed that the elephant mother was not accepting the calf carrying human scent. The environmental conservationists claim that the Forest Department didn’t make any scientific effort to reunite the elephant calf with its herd. According to Singhvi, experts often smear the calf with elephant dung the herd and keep it in a paddock so that the mother could find the calf easily. Often this process needs to be repeated multiple times before getting success. However, the Surguja Forest Department has kept the elephant calf in a rest house at Tapkara. Singhvi claims that the Forest Department seems more interested in jailing the little elephant in Tamor-Pingla rescue center instead of releasing him in the wild. Sighvi has raised a few questions on the way the calf is being treated at the rescue center. He wants to know why the elephant is not kept in a large enclosure covered with green nets? Why is the calf being fed milk in a polythene and not through a bottle? He demanded to know if there is a bank account, where donations could be made so that the milk bottle costing about Rs 12,000/- each could be bought. He demanded to know why the calf is surrounded by so many human beings, who are not wearing gloves, knowing if he gets human scent in its body, it will never be accepted back by the herd? Lastly, Singhvi claims that the calf is being made to sleep on the concrete floor, instead of a grass bed. He added that the Expert Veterinary Doctors were brought to the rescue center after a delay of four days. The animal lovers requested the Forest Minister to expedite the attempts to reintroduce the elephant calf into the herd and added that the decision to keep it in the rescue center should be the last resort, and only after recommendation of an expert veterinary doctor. Services of Wildlife Institute of India, Wildlife Trust of India and Mathura-based Wildlife SOS can also be taken. Meanwhile, PCCF Narsingh Rao, in a telephonic conservation with The Hitavada, claimed that the Department is doing its best to ensure the calf regains its health, becomes strong enough to be reintroduced to its herd. They have claimed that the doubts raised by Singhvi are unfounded, and they are only feeding the calf and giving it medical attention for its own benefit. “A dedicated team of forest officials including Chief Conservator of Forest (CCF) Surguja, Divisional Forest Officer (DFO) Jashpur Jitendra Upadhyay along with veterinary doctor Pawan Kumar Chandan and several others are dedicatedly working day and night to look after the calf under proper supervision of other experts while also complying with procedural methods often used in such delicate rescue operations,” he asserted. Wildlife lovers stressed on conducting a detailed study to find out exactly how the calf was separated from family and why his mother isn’t accepting the calf back so as data could be used in elephant conservation in future. According to experts, Elephant calves that get orphaned or separated from their herds, often end up at rescue centers. They are kept in large enclosures, with enough trees and mud puddles to play with. They are fed with bottled milk and large beds made with straws and green leaves for them to sleep. Elephants are highly sensitive and one of the most intelligent species that have a strong memory. Any childhood trauma may go a long way in shaping their future life and hence, maximum care has to be taken for their upkeep