Seven jumbos rescued from the raging Teesta (Jalpaiguri, India)


Pinak Priya Bhattacharya, Times of India

Date Published


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A herd of five adult elephants and two calves got stranded in the raging Teesta at Gajoldoba near Teesta Barrage on Wednesday morning, till the forest department pushed them to the shore almostfive hours later.

The herd, which was on its way to Targhera forest on the other side, waded into the river around 10am when the danger alarm had already been sounded. As the water rushed in, the calves found it especially difficult to keep their heads above water even as the five adult elephants struggled to protect the young ones from being swept away by the current towards the barrage.

Alerted that the elephants were stuck, foresters, headed by Belakoba ranger Sanjay Dutta, went in for a “cocktail rescue operation”.The personnel–some of them entered the river on bo ats and some stood on either side of the river–burst crackers, forcing the herd to swim towards the shallow end of the river. Siren was also sounded so that the elephants would flee, unable to withstand the loud noise.

“It was a battle against the raging Teesta to save the seven lives. The more you move towards the lock gates, the Teesta gets deeper. So, we desperately tried to force the elephants to swim towards the shallow side. Our men on boat risked their lives to drive the herd away,” said rang er Dutta. The foresters pointed out that in 1997, three elephants were killed at the same spot even as they tried to save a calf in the herd. Ironically, the calf was later rescued and is now at Jaldapara.

“Although we managed to push the herd to the shallow side of the river by one hour, we wanted to ensure they did not return to the danger zone.The entire operation took around five hours. Now, the herd is in a swampy land near the Targhera forest, around 5km from the river,” Dutta added.