India, Odisha

Eight elephants stranded in Keonjhar; rescue operations underway

Eight elephants, including a calf and tusker, are stranded on an isle in Odisha’s Keonjhar district since Sunday night. The herd was caught on the isle as they tried to rescue the three-month-old calf. Locals have been trying to feed the herd by giving them paddy, coconut and bamboo leaves.

After heavy rainfall lashed the region for two days, the water level in Baitarani River increased dangerously. Forest officials and locals have been working to ensure that the herd makes it back to safety from the river isle.

Keonjhar divisional forest officer, Rohit Lenka said, “The herd, from Similipal tiger sanctuary in neighbouring Mayurbhanj district, strayed into Patna forest range in search of food. While returning on Sunday, the calf was swept away in the river due to the strong current.”

“The elephants joined their trunks and carried the calf to safety on the isle, about 20 feet away from the river bank. The herd could have stomped through the thigh-deep water, but perhaps did not want to take chances with the safety of the calf,” he added.

The elephants were also hesitant to approach the shore thanks to the large number of people present. On Monday evening, two from the herd tried to cross over to the shore but abandoned their plan seeing the people.

Forester Bhupati Sethi said the elephants were lucky that they did not return to Similipal. “Had they gone to the Mayurbhanj side, they could have been washed away as the river was deeper there,” Sethi said.

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