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Assam grapples with problem: How to get elephant back from Bangladesh

By The Assam Tribune

Guwahati, July 27 (IANS): This is an elephantine problem not confronted before, and the Assam government has set up an experts' panel to solve it: How to retrieve a pachyderm washed away from the State by the flooded Brahmaputra river into Bangladesh.

The cow elephant was washed away last month from Kaziranga National Park and reached Kurigram district in Bangladesh, bordering Dhubri district of Assam.

Bangladesh officials have informed the Assam government that the cow elephant was in good health now. Earlier she was found to be weak and stressed as the locals drove her off from one place to another.

Assam has now turned to wise counsel of its experts to get the elephant back home. Assam's Principal Chief Conservator of Forests Bikash Brahma said a three-member expert team is likely to go to Bangladesh early next month.

"The Ministry of External Affairs has cleared the necessary formalities. We hope to get other formalities like visa to be over by end of this month," Brahma said on Wednesday.

However, nobody is sure about how to go about solving the weighty problem. "The team will first meet the Bangladesh forest department officials and study the feasibility on how to bring the elephant back and then take a decision," Brahma said.

The three experts are retired senior forest department official Ritesh Bhattacharyya, serving Divisional Forest Official (DFO) Suleiman Choudhury and serving veterinarian K.K. Sarma.

"All of them have substantial experience to handle such a situation," Brahma said, adding that probably effort will be made to tranquilize the elephant.

The Assam forest department officials tried to rescue the elephant when it was spotted first near Guwahati while floating in the Brahmaputra river. However, the attempts failed as the river was in full spate then.

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