A sad end to rescue mission for elephant trapped in swamp 1,700km from Indian home

Floodwaters carried the male elephant from upstream India before he became trapped in a swamp in Bangladesh’s Jamalpur district

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 16 August, 2016, 1:40pm
UPDATED : Tuesday, 16 August, 2016, 2:38pm

An adult Indian elephant that became trapped in a swamp in Bangladesh after being caught in raging floodwaters has died after weeks of struggling for survival.

Tapan Kumar Dey, a former forest conservator who was overseeing the rescue operation, said the elephant died despite the “highest efforts” to save it.

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“This is very sad. We tried our best to save it,” Dey said.

The cause of the death of the elephant named “Bangabahadur”, or Hero of Bengal, was not immediately clear, though local media blamed excessive tranquillising for the animal’s death, saying he became too weak to stand.

But the government’s chief wildlife conservator Ashit Ranjan Paul said the long journey was responsible, adding that rescue efforts had been hampered by the thousands of curious villagers following him.

“In the end it became too tired by travelling such a great length. It had been separated from its herd for some two months and did not get the nutrients that it needed,” he said.

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The elephant, tired and weak from its struggle, had been tranquillised earlier in an attempt to steer it from the swamp and to bring it closer to a road so it could be transported to an elephant safari park.

Monsoon-triggered flooding had likely carried the male elephant 1,700 kilometres from the northeastern Indian state of Assam after being separated from his herd in severe flooding.

He then became trapped in a swamp in Bangladesh’s Jamalpur district three weeks ago.

Authorities had planned to rescue it and move it to the safari park near the capital Dhaka.

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Earlier, Indian wildlife authorities had abandoned plans to take the elephant back because it was unlikely that it would have been welcomed back to his herd in the hilly forests of the remote northeastern state of Assam.

Heavy downpours have flooded vast areas of eastern India since monsoon rains began in June.

Additional reporting by Agence France-Presse