BHUBANESWAR: Elephants have a strong social bond and guard members of their herd with life. The tusker which got stuck in swollen Mahanadi river on Friday is believed to have got into trouble trying to ensure that a calf of its herd could cross the flooded river safely.
The tusker, around 18-years old, is now missing. Forest department sources said, carcass of the calf was recovered from near the river banks close to north Dampara. That is the point where they cross over. It appears that the calf was swept away in the strong current of the river. It may have been the calf the tusker was waiting to cross the river.
The herd had seven elephants of which six had already crossed the river. However, the sub-adult tusker - the last to cross the river - chose to stay back to ensure that the calf swam through the river. As the velocity of the water increased, the tusker remained stranded.
What stressed the animal more was presence of a large crowd on Mundali bridge and both sides of the river. It did not move till late night. The elephant which was last spotted near Dhabaleswar ghat at around 2.30 am is now missing. Forest officials used a drone in their search operation on Saturday to trace him but remained unsuccessful.
City DFO Jashobant Bariha said two teams have been deployed at Jobra anicut to trace the elephant. "If the elephant had crossed the river, it might have moved into the forest. However, if it has drowned, there is a possibility that its carcass will be found near the anicut," he said.
It is difficult to ascertain if the elephant is dead till the carcass is recovered, said Chandaka DFO Md Jameel.