Elephant fell into pit
The elephants fell into a 10-foot deep pit at the construction site of Ramdev Baba's Patanjali Herbal and Mega Food Park in Assam YouTube screen grab

A shocking incident from India's Northeastern state of Assam has highlighted how wild animals are suffering as human civilisation is encroaching forest lands.

Forest department officials took eight long hours to rescue a female elephant and her calf that fell into a 10-foot deep pit at the construction site of Ramdev Baba's Patanjali Herbal and Mega Food Park. Ramdev Baba, who is a yoga teacher and is known for his work in Ayurveda, business, politics and agriculture, established the Patanjali Ayurved Limited in 2006- an Indian FMCG company producing mineral and herbal products.

The company recently sought the government's permission to establish a mega industry which will produce a variety of products ranging from kitchen utensils to cosmetics. The Chief Minister of the state Sarbananda Sonowal laid the foundation stone for the park, which is spread over 150 acres, on 6 November and construction work is ongoing at the site thereafter.

The adult female elephant fell in one of the 14 open pits at the construction site in Sonitpur district while trying to save her calf that strayed away from the herd and fell into the trench. Hearing the baby elephant's calls for help another elephant calf came along with the mother elephant.

While trying to rescue the calf, both the elephants slipped and fell in the trench. The mother elephant fractured her leg and sustained severe injuries on her head after the second elephant fell on her. Though one of the elephant calves managed to climb its way up and came out of the pit, the other one stayed back with the dying mother.

Forest officials and volunteers used a crane to lift up the mother and take it out of the pit; however, it succumbed to its juries after 19 hours of its rescue on 24 November.

The Assam Forest Department has filed a FIR against the builder of Patanjali Mega Herbal and Food Park at Salanibari police outpost under Tezpur police station.

"It is a very tragic incident. While the area is known for frequent elephant movement, what appears is that the industrial park land given to Patanjali could be part of an elephant corridor which needs to be notified. Local people too have said that there has been elephant movement here for decades. I have asked my department officials to lodge a FIR against the company which is setting up a factory there,"said Pramila Rani Brahm, Assam Forest Minister, reported a national news agency.

This incident comes just after the news of a leopard being clubbed to death by villagers in the state of Haryana went viral and received staunch criticism from animal right activists.