A recent video sent by a friend Rajeev N Kurup shares an interesting story of human empathy towards elephants. There are two different things to look into in this scenario...one of course, it shows how far inside are elephants coming in towards the human habitation. As this report shows in The Hindu, in recent years, the wild elephants coming to the human habitation has increased considerably. The second of course is the courage and empathy of the forest staff when adversity forces elephant calf to separate. No one wants an orphan and particularly so with the wild animals. It is heartening to see the forest official carrying a calf on his shoulders to join the calf back to the herd.
As much as we continue to think elephants and humans are in conflict, this video is an indication of the extraordinary efforts of individuals, department people as well as the common man when situation arises to protect the species. it is not often one can come across such acts of courage and a commitment to protect the young elephant calf. It was more heartening to see that the herd accepted the young calf back into their herd and it was all joyous as the young calf rightfully went back into the wild than becoming an orphan. This is also a remainder for us humans, if we can find such mechanism to include children too in such circumstances and connect them to families. We see so many orphaned children due to diverse forces of irrational judgement from humans. It is disheartening to see their wonderful life taken away and not given the right opportunity in many many instances. Please watch this video and let's celebrate such acts of empathy be it for the wild or for the human life!!!!
Here is a note from Rajeev N. Kurup on the background of this video...
A forest department official who rushed a baby elephant to its mother by carrying it on his shoulders is the new star on social media. It’s usual for man to ride an elephant, but it’s unheard of the other way. The photo of the forest official carrying the elephant calf immediately caught eyeballs and went viral on social media. The one-month-old calf got stuck in mud after it fell into a canal at Nellimala at Ooty’s Mettupalayam range. Officials from the Mettupalayam forest extricated the calf by toiling hard, but unknowingly separated it from its mother which was waiting nearby. The photo was of their efforts to reunite the baby with its mother. The road from the Vanabhadra Kaliamman temple in Mettupalayam to Thekkampatti has reserve forests on one side and the Bhavani River on the other.
It all started on Tuesday. A local man on a tractor found a cow elephant stayed put on the road. The driver raced the sound of the tractor expecting the animal to move away, but it instead tried to attack the tractor. Forest officials who reached the spot chased the elephant and its herd back to the forest by bursting crackers. That was when they heard the cries of the baby elephant trapped in the canal and realized that the elephant on the road was its mother waiting for her calf. The forest department team rescued the calf and immediately took it to the herd with one of the officials carrying it on his shoulders. The elephant herd was in the Nellithurai area. But the calf returned to the officials every time they tried to push it towards the group. They waited for two days, feeding the calf Lactogen, glucose and coconut water in between. Finally, the mother approached its calf on Thursday evening. The forest department team returned satisfied as the elephant took the calf back to the herd.
Dr. Thomas Grant
Professor of Journalism at Abraham Baldwin Agricultural College