Forest department officials and staff from the Gudalur forest division breathed a huge sigh of relief on Tuesday after an elephant calf that was rescued from an elephant proof trench near Avondale Estate in Gudalur Forest Range was finally accepted back into the herd by the matriarch and other individuals.
Gudalur forest officials said that the elephant had been placed in a temporary krall overnight which could be easily broken open by the adult elephants so that they could take their calf.
At around 5.30 a.m, the elephant herd, that had earlier refused to accept the calf back into the herd possibly because they could sense human presence nearby, damaged the krall and took the calf along with them into the forest.
A few forest staff are monitoring the animal to ensure that the reunification goes off without a hitch.
Unable to escape
It may be recalled that the elephant calf, believed to be between 3-5 months old, had gotten stuck in the elephant trench which was around five-feet deep and was unable to escape.
Forest staff rescued the animal and were hoping that the herd would return and accept the male calf back into the family.
Gudalur District Forest Officer P K Dileep issued strict instructions to staff members to not come into close contact with the animal to maximise chances of reuniting it with its herd.
The officer said that the chances of the animal being accepted had looked bleak yesterday as the herd had shown reluctance to accept the elephant calf because of it coming in contact with humans.
The animal had become extremely weak as it could not feed on its mother’s milk and was also refusing food from the forest department. Forest officials considered moving the calf to the Theppakadu Elephant Camp in case the herd refused to accept it back, but that eventuality has now been avoided.
Heads towards Waynad
The calf and the herd are now said to have entered the Mudumalai Tiger Reserve and to be heading towards Wayanad.