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Elephants swim to safety amidst strong river currents

Elephants swim to safety amidst strong river currents


By:- Sagaya Fernando

Though elephants are adept swimmers, a herd trying to cross the Mahanadi River in Odisha, 
India, on October 15, was caught in the strong currents of the river and seen struggling to 
stay afloat. After almost a day’s struggle, and human intervention, all of them walked out 

The whole incident was captured on video by the local villagers. 

“A herd of seven elephants including two young elephants came out from the Athagarh forest 
division in the early morning and were heading towards Chandaka forest across the Mahanadi 
River near the Mundali barrage. While the two young elephants turned back into the Athagarh 
forest, the remaining five entered the river to cross over and were caught in the strong river 
current. While two of them eventually swam to safety around 10.30 am and went back into the 
Athagarh forest, three got swept away in the swirling waters,” informed Assistant Conservator 
of Forests (City Division) Mohammed Jamil. 

He further added, “The forest department was informed about the plight of the elephants by the 
local villagers. Taking stock of the situation, it was decided to close four gates of the 
barrage to reduce the flow of the water. The three elephants had been swept away almost 15 
kilometers downstream. Elephants are excellent swimmers and can keep themselves afloat. 
Finally after the water level got reduced, the elephants walked out of the river safely and 
entered the Chandaka forest at around 4.30 pm.” 

Crossing the river is normal for these pachyderms, but on October 15 the swift currents – as 
the Mahanadi River is in spate following cyclone Titli triggered rains – made it a struggling 
task for them.


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