Lakhimpur Kheri (UP), Feb 7 (IANS) Both were born during Navratri in different years and they now share an undeniable bond. Durga, a seven-year-old female elephant in Dudhwa, has ‘adopted’ a 15-day-old orphaned elephant calf was rescued by the forest department from Najibabad forest in Bijnor, in September 2023.
The calf, named Gauri, was sent to the Dudhwa tiger reserve (DTR), after the forest department’s team in Bijnor had failed to reunite the calf with herds of elephants crossing over the region.
When the herds did not take the calf along, it was sent to Dudhwa where it got its name, Gauri.
Deputy director of DTR, Rengaraju Tamilselvan, said that it was Durga who accepted Gauri and took it under her wings, like a mother, making the job of nurturing the calf much easier for them.
Today, Gauri is three months old and scampers along with her doting mother Durga.
Both the elephants had come to Dudhwa during Navratri and hence got their names – Durga and Gauri.
Dudhwa has 25 captive elephants, but none except Durga accepted the calf.
The reason for her affinity towards Gauri was, perhaps, her own past.
She herself was found orphaned in Bijnor in 2018 as a calf.
The forest department tried to send her back to the forests, but the herds did not accept her. She was also sent to Dudhwa.
There is another link between the two elephants — their mahout, Irshad, who reared Durga and is now taking care of Gauri.
“His experience with Durga helped us in the case of Gauri too. We knew how to rear the calf like our own child,” said the official.
The captive elephants at Dudhwa were brought from Karnataka and other states to be trained in patrolling, rescue operations and other specialised wildlife activities.
Durga is one of the lot, undergoing training at the reserve.
“Gauri will also join them by the time she is ten years old and is done with the training,” said the deputy director.
For now, the two are inseparable.
Gauri is being raised on cow’s milk and lactogen daily.
About 16 litres of milk and two packs of lactogen is what she consumes in 24 hours, about five times a day and night.