Death of elephant, 73, sparks mourning at India wildlife park

January 8, 2014
Elephants graze at sunset on October 29, 2002, in Kaziranga National Park in India's northeastern Assam state

A giant 73-year-old elephant died Wednesday at a famed wildlife sanctuary in northeast India, bringing tears to the eyes of his keepers—and fellow pachyderms.

The majestic 11-foot (3.35 metre) tall elephant, called Joyraj, died of old age at Kaziranga National Park, 220 kilometres (130 miles) east of Assam's state's main city of Guwahati, keepers told AFP.

Kaziranga is a world-famous rhino sanctuary with around a dozen that take tourists inside the park, with guards also using the creatures for patrols.

"He was the darling of Kaziranga for decades and I could not stop crying when he breathed his last this morning," Mohan Karmakar, Joyraj's "mahout", or keeper, said by telephone.

"A number of other elephants nearby were trumpeting loudly and had tears rolling down their faces—a sight best seen than told,” Karmakar said.

Joyraj had served the park for 65 years until he retired in 2008.

"Joyraj was an extraordinary animal. He carried countless tourists on elephant safaris inside the park to let them glimpse the rhinos and other animals,” Karmakar said.

"He also helped us break up fights between wild tuskers inside the park and engaged in several of the anti-poaching operations."

Park rangers and forest guards stood beside the giant carcass offering floral wreaths as a mark of respect.

"His height and mature handling of difficult situations are things nobody in the will ever forget," said N.B. Das, a forest keeper.

According to latest figures, some 2,500 of the world's estimated 3,300 one-horned rhinos lumber around the wilds of Assam.

Kaziranga alone is home to 2,290 rhinos according to a 2012 census.

Explore further: India floods kill threatened rhinos

Related Stories

India floods kill threatened rhinos

July 9, 2012

Devastating floods in northeast India have killed around 600 animals in the region's largest wildlife park, including more than a dozen threatened one-horned rhinos, officials said Monday.

Two rare Indian rhinos die after poaching attack

September 30, 2012

Two rare rhinos brutally attacked by poachers this week in northeast India have died, veterinarians said on Saturday, triggering protests at local authorities' failure to protect the animals.

Poachers kill 13 rare rhinos in India

March 1, 2013

Poachers in northeast India have slaughtered 13 endangered one-horned rhinos in the last two months, officials said on Friday as another death added to worries about a recent surge in killings.

Poachers kill rare rhinos in India's northeast

March 24, 2013

A gang of poachers killed a rare one-horned rhino at a wildlife park in northeast India, taking to 15 the number of such beasts slaughtered this year, an official said on Sunday.

India uses drones to fight rhino poaching

April 8, 2013

India said Monday it is deploying drones over a reserve to safeguard the rare one-horned rhino from poachers, the first time the country has employed aerial technology to protect wildlife.

Recommended for you

Winter season reverses outcome of fruit fly reproduction

November 24, 2015

Male fruit flies could find their chances of fathering offspring radically reduced if they are last in the queue to mate with promiscuous females before winter arrives, according to new University of Liverpool research.

New insight into leaf shape diversity

November 24, 2015

Many of us probably remember the punnett squares by which we were introduced to the idea of genetic inheritance in school: a dominant allele in each of my brown-eyed parents hides a recessive allele that explains my blue ...


Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.