Death of an elephant: An obituary (India/Bangladesh)


Abu Bakar Siddique, Dhaka Tribune

Date Published


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Following a saga that stretched two countries, hundreds of kilometres and almost two months, the elephant which was lovingly given the name Banga Bahadur died yesterday

In June, the four-tonne elephant was swept down the Brahmaputra by flood waters from  Assam. He entered Bangladesh through Roumari and travelled through Kurigram, Gaibandha, Bogra and Sirajganj before reaching Jamalpur.

Banga Bahadur was presumably trying to get back to his herd and swam across the Brahmaputra twice. But the strong current kept taking him further downstream. Repeated efforts, from both Bangladesh and India, to facilitate his return home ended in failure.

The elephant – aged around 35 years – died at a shoal in Jamalpur’s Sharisabari upazila around 7am yesterday, Conservator of Forest (Wildlife) Ashit Ranjal Pal said.

“The elephant was suffering from different complications,” he said. Banga Bahadur fell sick on Monday night but the efforts of a rescue team to give him treatment went in vain. “He died in the  morning.”

Dr Sayeed Hossain, a member of the rescue team, told our Jamalpur correspondent Biswajit Deb that Banga Bahadur had been unable to stand up since Monday afternoon. The elephant had an unusually high temperature.

Dr Tapan Kumar Dey, who led the rescue efforts, said a five-member team headed by Forest Department’s veterinary surgeon Dr Mostafizur Rahman will now carry out an autopsy of the elephant.

The lack of food, state of mind in an unfamiliar place, loneliness, and physical exhaustion all played a part in the elephant’s death, Dr Tapan said, adding that it is believed that Banga Bahadur finally died of a heart attack.

Earlier, the Forest Department started looking into the movement of stray elephants wandering into the shoals along the Brahmaputra only after a week of discovering this elephant.

The wildlife authority in Bangladesh, then, informed India about the issue so that the elephant could be taken back home.

Despite sincere efforts, the forest department could not solve the problem since it neither has the expertise nor the logistics for handling such a situation.

Finally, 37 days after Banga Bahadur entered Bangladesh, on August 3, a three-member Indian expert team arrived but left without him, two days later.

Since then, forest officials were trying to rescue the elephant, but failed due to lack of transport facility and the remoteness of the area, where it had been wandering for the last few days since it was tranquillised on August 11.