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Dublin: 17 °C Monday 22 April, 2019

Elephant that travelled 1,700km from India to Bangladesh dies despite efforts to save him

The distressed animal was tranquillised three times in bids to transport him to a safari park.

Image: AP/Press Association Images

AN ELEPHANT THOUGHT to have travelled at least 1,700 kilometres from India to Bangladesh after becoming separated from his herd by floods died today, despite last-ditch efforts to save him.

The distressed animal was tranquillised three times in sometimes dramatic bids to transport him to a safari park in Bangladesh, after he washed across the border in late June.

He was eventually given huge amounts of saline and chained in a paddy field in a northern village to help him recover, but he was “too weak and tired” from his ordeal, officials said.

“It breathed its last [breath] at around 7am (1am Irish time),” the government’s chief wildlife conservator Ashit Ranjan Paul said.

We have given our highest effort to save the animal. At least 10 forest rangers, vets and policemen have constantly followed it for the last 48 days, but our luck is bad.

Paul said the animal likely travelled more than 1,700 kilometres (about 1,060 miles) from the northeastern Indian state of Assam after being separated from his herd in severe flooding.

The animal ran amok and charged into a pond after Bangladesh forest officials hit him with a tranquilliser dart last Thursday.

Local villagers jumped into the pond to save the four-tonne animal from drowning by stopping it from toppling into the water.

Excessive tranquillisation?

A mahout was also critically injured during another rescue effort yesterday, after being kicked by the tranquillised elephant.

Local media blamed excessive tranquillisation for the animal’s death, saying he became too weak to stand.

However, Paul said the long journey was responsible, adding that rescue efforts had been hampered by the thousands of curious villagers following him.

“In the end it became too tired by travelling such a great length. It had been separated from its herd for some two months and did not get the nutrients that it needed.

“Thousands of villagers followed it every day as it entered into Bangladesh and then travelled to villages and river islands across the Brahmaputra River,” he said.

© AFP 2016

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