Jaldapara's oldest guardian elephant dies at 90

KOLKATA: The National Park, which has the largest number of rhinos in West Bengal, lost one of its foot soldiers on Sunday.

Madhubala, the park's oldest guardian elephant, died in the Moiradanga area in the morning due to old age. She was 90 years old.

Speaking to TOI, the state's chief wildlife guard, Ravi Kant Sinha, said Madhubala had recently lost the last set of molar teeth. “She was born in 1930 and was purchased by the forestry department sometime in 1969-70. He served in the park for 50 years, patrolled different rhythm areas during his career, and gave birth to eight calves in the park. The park pays tribute to its oldest guard of 50 long years for exceptional and tireless service, he added.

Speaking about some of Madhubala's greatest achievements, Sinha said his role was commendable during the rhino vaccination campaign in 1992, when a wild elephant had died of anthrax in the park. “The park only had 33 rhinos at the time. Since an elephant had died of anthrax, we didn't want to risk it and decided to vaccinate the rhinos. Madhubala played a key role as our foresters continued to vaccinate (via darts) at least 23 rhinos in the park, ”said the chief wildlife guard. The park, he added, now houses more than 230 rhinos.

The department typically doesn't put an elephant to work once it turns 65. But Madhubala had to be cornered recently after the mysterious death of five rhinos. We had to vaccinate some rhinos after the recent deaths, said the officer.

According to Sinha, an elephant has six sets of molar teeth. After losing her last set recently, Madhubala couldn't even eat, she said.

Madhubala, a source said, was also occasionally used for tourism activities.

Jaldapara now has 93 guardian elephants, while Gorumara and Buxa have 18 and 2 jumbos respectively.

Meanwhile, a male rhino, in his 30s, was successfully sedated, treated and revived in Jalda for Sunday. The rhino was injured while fighting with another; He had deep wounds, a senior official said.

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