DHAKA -- An Indian elephant, which had been trapped in swamps after being swept away over 1,700 km into Bangladesh by raging flood waters, died today despite valiant efforts by villagers and officials to save him.
The elephant, named 'Bangabahadur' (hero of Bengal), died around 7 AM at Sarishabari's Koyra village under Sarishabari upazilla of Jamalpur district, about 200 km from Dhaka, rescue team's chief Ashim Mallik was quoted as saying by bdnews24.Com.
The elephant, weighing about four tonnes, was rescued on 11 August by a Bangladeshi forest department team after more than six weeks of frantic efforts since the jumbo was swept away to Bangladesh from Assam.
It initially appeared agitated after receiving a tranquiliser and moved indiscriminately for nearly an hour before it fell unconscious in a ditch. Forest officials and enthusiast villagers dragged her off the ditch.
An expert team from India led by a retired chief forest conservator on 4 July joined the Bangladeshi team in rescuing the elephant but left the scene three days later.
In the past several weeks, the elephant travelled several thousand kilometres in a hostile situation since the flood waters drove it out of Assam.
A Bangladeshi official had said India can take it back if possible, "otherwise we will keep the elephant", citing two cases in 2004 and 2013 in which one attempt to return an elephant succeeded while another died on its way back.
According to officials, the elephant was stranded in waters which disrupted the joint rescue mission as it could not be driven to a dry piece of land to be tranquilised for treatment and transportation.
Forest officials earlier said the elephant remained calm despite being tired, though it showed some signs of abnormal behaviour as it was forced to live in swamps for weeks despite being habituated in hilly forest environment.
A huge crowd of people took makeshift refuge on higher lands at the scene leaving their homes inundated by flood waters.
It crossed the common Brahmaputra river on 27 June and soon grabbed media attention as it was followed by hundreds of people in boats every day requiring police deployment to keep it undisturbed. In the past 456 days, it roamed along the river shoals and swamps in three northern districts.
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