A tusker trying to cross the Mahanadi River was swept away by floodwater and stuck near the Mundali Dam near Cuttack city on Friday, Forest officials said.
They said the Department of Forestry, ODRAF, and Fire Department has begun an operation to rescue the jumbo.
The elephant was part of a herd of about 11 crossing the Mahanadi River early Friday morning. While others could cross the river, the tusker was the only one caught up in the strong current. The cows are moving from Nuasasan in the Athagah Range on one side of the Mahanadi River to the Chandaka Forest.
Locals discovered the animal after hearing its trumpet and immediately informed the fire brigade personnel.
Athagarh Ranger, Ayesha Nisha, said: “All but the tusker could cross the river. The water level is very high near the location. We are doing our best to rescue the pachyderm.”
Meanwhile, a rubber boat carrying six Odisha Disaster Rapid Action Force (ODRAF) members tried to rescue the elephant that had capsized in the middle of the river.
Fire crews along with forestry officials are now involved in rescuing ODRAF team members instead of the elephant. Several members of the ODRAF team were pulled from the river, officials said.
Senior forest officials earlier from Chandaka arrived and launched ‘Operation Gaja’ to rescue the tusker. In addition to sturdy ropes, rangers have prepared a crane to pull the mammal out of the water to safety.
The official said that the tusker managed to overcome about 300 meters before the strong flow of floodwater. But, the animal once again returned to the middle of the river after finding a large crowd at the riverbank.