The Centre has cleared a proposal to send a rescue team to Bangladesh to retrieve an elephant stranded there after being washed away by the strong currents of the Brahmaputra river from Assam.
Officials of the Union Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change Tuesday said they had received the political clearance for the visit by an expert team to Bangladesh. The Chief Wildlife Warden of Assam is working on arranging visa for the members of the team.
Project Elephant director R K Srivastava confirmed that a rescue team is likely to leave for the neighbouring country on August 3, but the actual date would depend on factors like the weather condition. “The Project Elephant division of the ministry is constantly in touch with the Bangladesh forest department, chief wildlife wardens of Assam and Meghalaya and other relevant agencies to rescue the stranded elephant and bring it back to India,” he said.
Assam has constituted a team of five experts including Rithesh Bhattacharjee, retired conservator of forests of Assam, elephant expert Kaushik Baruah, and DFO (Dhubri division) A S Talukder. “The Bangladesh forest department is constantly tracking the movement of the stranded elephant,” the official said.
According to forest officials, the elephant was spotted by many stranded in the middle of the Brahmaputra river at Guwahati earlier last month. It was was later sighted at Sildubi hill at Barpeta and officials had maintained at the time that since the island was surrounded by the river, it was simply not possible to tranquilize the elephant and rescue it.
On June 27, it was reported that a wild female elephant was separated from its herd in Assam and floated along with the currents of the Brahmaputra into the neighbouring Bangladesh. An NGO, Humane Society International, wrote a letter to Minster of External Affairs Sushma Swaraj, requesting her to expedite the required permission. In search of food, the pachyderm is now reportedly in conflict with villagers in those regions. “The elephant has reportedly become feeble due to lack of food, so its rescue at the earliest is necessary to prevent further distress to her as well as the locals living in the region,” the NGO had said.