An elephant, which was half way through crossing the Teesta at
Gajoldoba in Jalpaiguri, got stranded in the river as the water level
suddenly swelled on Thursday. After being stuck for more than seven
hours, the makhna could finally wade its way to the shore and then
went inside a nearby forest.
The rest of the herd-believed to have come out of the Kathambari
forest-had 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 suspected that the elephants was not only stuck owing
to the swelling river but a possible quick sand 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 initially, it did not seem to help much owing to the
continuous flow of water from the upstream.
“The place where the elephant was stranded left us with few options.
We could not get into the river to rescue the animal. Secondly, if
there was a quick sand, any force from outside would have driven the
animal to death. We have to wait and see,” a senior forester said.
True to the officers’ hope that the elephant would be able to move
out, the animal did manage to wade to the shore after dark. “Elephants
can usually move after dusk. Water receded, and it managed to cross
the river after dark,” an officer said.