Elephant calf separated from herd in India is reunited with mother


A baby elephant who was separated from his mother and the rest of his herd in a wildlife park in Tamil Nadu, south India, has been reunited with them by park officials.

An aerial photograph taken by officials shows the mother and calf, three days later, enjoying a nap on a slight incline with the baby nestled in the nook of his mother’s chest.

The baby, only four to five months old, became separated from the mother and the herd at Anamalai Tiger Reserve in Pollachi on 29 December. Wildlife wardens saw him in distress looking around for his mother.

Usually a herd does not move on when a calf goes missing but in this case both mother and the herd had travelled about 2.5 miles (4km) away.

“Mostly, the herd moves away but a smaller group hangs around to locate the missing calf. But sometimes the herd, particularly if it’s an area where there is animal-human conflict, moves away for safety. The matriarch has to choose between the welfare of the herd and the welfare of one calf,” said Kartick Satyanarayan, the chief executive of Wildlife SOS.

Once the calf was found, a day after he was separated, drones were used to locate the herd. Before taking the calf to the herd, forest officials bathed him and spread mud on him to reduce any human smells.

“It means the mother and aunts will welcome the calf back and it reduces their anxiety about any human imprint,” said Satyanarayan.

The calf was then bundled on to a truck to be taken for the reunion.

The staff were asked to monitor the mother and calf for a few days more and that is how they came across the two of them having a quiet nap.

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This article by Amrit Dhillon was first published by The Guardian on 3 January 2024. Lead Image: Wildlife wardens had seen the calf in distress looking around for his mother. Photograph: Tamil Nadu Forest Department.





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