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Glacial burst wrecks havoc on its downhill path

Glacial burst wrecks havoc on its downhill path Sumesh Rajan Mumbai: 7 February 2021  A glacial burst in Chamoli district of Uttarakhand state in India on February 7 has caused massive havoc on its downhill path along the Dhauliganga and Rishiganga rivers.  The disaster occured after a portion of the Nanda Devi glacier broke off in Tapovan area of Joshimath in Uttarakhand.  The Tapovan power plant being constructed over the Dhauligana river and the Rishiganga power project across the Rishiganga river -- a tributary of Dhauliganga -- have been damaged completely with sludge overwhelming the projects, say local officials.  Over 150 people are said to have lost their lives in this disaster and scores are missing. Ten bodies have been recovered so far from the National Thermal Power Corporation (NTPC) power project site at Tapovan, said the Indo-Tibetan Border Police (ITBP) officials. The missing persons are believed to be labourers working at the dam sites and villagers along the river. T
Mother elephant grieving for its dead baby charges at insensitive forest staff who disturb it




Story by Sumesh Rajan
Mumbai: February 12, 2018


Wildlife researchers and scientists have observed that besides human beings, some species in the animal kingdom mourn their dead. Elephants, chimpanzees, monkeys, giraffes have been noted for this emotional behavior.

The loss of a family member is heartbreak for many, but the loss of one’s child is devastation for a mother. Displaying such an emotional state, a mother elephant which has lost it's few days old baby is warding off forest department staff at Masinagudi close to the Mudumalai National Park forest area in the south Indian state of Tamil Nadu for the past few days.

After receiving reports of stench emanating from the area, members of the anti-poaching watchers (APW) unit of the forest department has been trying to reach the spot and retrieve the corpse of the dead baby elephant for an autopsy. However, the agitated mother elephant will have none of it. And, charges at the staff every time they approach it.

The baby died on February 6, and the stench of the rotting carcass alerted those living in the vicinity who informed the forest department. The APW staff has since then trying to retrieve the dead baby, but without any success as the mother elephant is guarding her dead baby and grieving over it.

Videos show that the APW staff has been trying to scare the elephant with loud horning and noise but to no avail. Today is the seventh day, and the mother elephant is standing her ground in grief.

“When a member of their herd dies, elephants often guard the bodies. They become agitated and appear to investigate the dead animal with their trunks and feet in a ceremonial way. Elephants are highly intelligent and highly tactile animals. Elephants themselves are a matriarchal society and have close bonds within a group. Therefore, a death in the family could have an impact on them, just as it does in human families,” says animal activist S Chandrasekar of Vanam Trust of India, Coimbatore.

He added, “The APW should not be in a hurry to retrieve the dead carcass and disturb the grieving mother. They should wait till the mother elephant gets over its grief and leaves the spot.”

“Just as we humans grieve over our dead, so is the mother elephant grieving over its dead baby. We may never know exactly what goes on inside the mind of an elephant, but it would be arrogant of us to assume we are the only species capable of feeling loss and grief. Scientists have observed extraordinary displays of emotion from elephants. And, just as we don’t want wild animals to enter into our homes, the wild animals also expect humans not to invade their jungle space,” explains Chandrasekar. 

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