Assam expert team to visit Bangladesh to bring back the elephant washed away by the Brahmaputra (Guwahati, India)


Naresh Mitral, Times of India

Date Published

Assam forest department has constituted a three-member experts team to
bring back a wild elephant which was washed away by the Brahmaputra
last month and reached a sandbar in Bangladesh’s Kurigram district.

Kurigram is the nearest district in Bangladesh from Dhubri in Assam.
Till last week, information from Bangladesh said, the elephant was
found on sandbars in Chikajani union in Jamalpur district, after the
female elephant swam through Brahmaputra (known as Jamuna in
Bangladesh) from Kurigram’s Chilmari sub-divisional area.

District forest officials in Bangladesh, who are in touch with their
Assam counterparts, have also informed that the elephant became weak
and significantly stressed as locals drove the jumbo away from their
cropland on the sandbars.

“Bangladesh has already informed us about the presence of our elephant
in that country. We are waiting for the permission from the state
government for the expert team to travel to Bangladesh and bring the
elephant back,” Assam principal chief conservator of forest (wildlife)
Bikash Brahma said.

Brahma said that the ministry of environment, forest and climate
change’s project elephant has also been informed after the elephant
from the state crossed over to Bangladesh. Elephant expert and
veterinarian, K K Sarma, who is also part of the three-member expert
team, said that it would be one of the most challenging wildlife
rescue operations.

“I heard that the elephant is moving along the riverine islands of
Brahmaputra. So, we have to study the habitat there and see whether it
is possible to take cranes or trucks to those islands. Also, we have
to find out whether kunkis are available there. The health of the
elephant also has to be taken into consideration before we tranquilize
the jumbo,” Sarma explained.

The elephant is believed to have been washed away by Brahmaputra from
Kaziranga National Park on mid-June. The jumbo was spotted by locals
at Chandrapur area on the outskirt of Guwahati.

When the elephant reached Guwahati, forest officials tried to rescue
the animal, but couldn’t succeed as the Brahmaputra was in spate then.

“Our team with dart gun followed the elephant at several places along
the Brahmaputra. But darting the jumbo in high current of the river is
a risky task for the animal. The jumbo did came up on the banks at
Chaygaon and some places along the river. But people chased the
elephant again to the river,” a forest official said.