‘Hero of Bengal’ poses jumbo problem for rescuers

The tranquillised wild female elephant lies on the ground after being pulled from the swamp by officials and villagers. Pictures: Getty Images
The tranquillised wild female elephant lies on the ground after being pulled from the swamp by officials and villagers. Pictures: Getty Images
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A fully grown Indian elephant that washed up in a swamp in Bangladesh after being caught up in raging flood waters has become a jumbo problem for wildlife officials on both sides of the border.

Floodwaters carried the male elephant thousands of miles from upstream India before he became trapped in a swamp in Bangladesh’s Jamalpur district some three weeks ago.

Wildlife workers tranquilised the elephant so they could bring him closer to a highway to transport him by truck to a safari park outside Dhaka, Bangladesh’s capital.

Indian wildlife authorities abandoned a plan to send the elephant back to India because he was unlikely to be welcomed by his herd in the hilly forests of the remote north-eastern state of Assam.

They then agreed to let him be transferred to the park.

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

Wildlife experts were experimenting with tranquilisation dosages because they wanted to make the transfer to the truck go smoothly, said retired forest conservator Tapan Kumar Dey who oversaw the rescue.

The swampy area where the elephant, whose age was not clear, was found was a few miles from the highway.

Forest guards and wardens used smaller doses of the tranquiliser and chains and iron hooks to get the elephant to start moving, said Mr Dey.

Wildlife authorities said they plan to use at least two domesticated elephants to help lead the way.

“We plan to use some elephants to encourage it to walk with them toward the main highway,” said Mr Dey.

The elephant appeared to be in good condition, although when forest guards found him, he was dehydrated after being stuck in the swamp for days.

“Now our challenge is to bring it to the main highway, which is a few kilometres away,” he said.

“From there, we will take it to the safari park on Monday.”

Local villagers have named the elephant Bangabahadur, which means Hero of 
Bengal.