An elephant, which was halfway through crossing the Teesta at
Gajoldoba in Jalpaiguri, got stranded in the river as the water level
suddenly swelled on Thursday. Though it failed to move for over six
hours and counting, the rest of the herd believed to have come out of
the Kathambari forest, managed to reach the other side into the
Saraswatipur forest tract before the water rose.
“The makhna was the last one crossing the river and it got stranded
near the Teesta Barrage owing to the rising water,” said Bidhan Roy, a
resident of the area. Some foresters fear that the elephants was not
only stuck owing to the swelling river but possible quicksand at the
spot could have also made its movement impossible.
Senior foresters, including Sumita Ghatak, conservator of forests,
wildlife, northern circle, and P R Pradhan, Baikunthapur divisional
forest officer, besides Teesta Barrage executive engineer Shyamal
Ghosal reached the spot. The forest department spoke to the Teesta
Barrage authorities and convinced them to open three lock gates,
situated nearby, to help the water recede. The opening of the lock
gates did help decrease the water level but it did not seem to help
much owing to the continuous flow of water from the upstream.
“The place where the elephant is stranded has left us with few
options. We cannot get into the river to rescue the animal. Secondly,
if there is a quick sand, any force from outside will simply drive the
animal to death. We have to wait and see,” a senior forester said.
Another officer hoped that the elephant would be able to move out,
even if it was after dark. “Elephants can usually move after dusk.
Water has started receding and let’s pray that the jumbo will get out
of the river once it is dark,” he said.