The pitiful sound of a crying baby is enough to transform even the strongest of adults into kitten-weak, softened and often terrified creatures. This effect seems to cross the barriers between humans and animals; even a rampaging elephant can be brought to a halt by the noise of a crying infant. A wild tusker (an elephant with tusks) was raging through a village in West Bengal on Monday, when it stopped and retraced its steps to save a crying baby trapped in the rubble of a home it had destroyed moments before.
The village is located in the Purulia district of the East Indian state of West Bengal, an area that regularly sees confrontation between humans and wild animals. Locals say that the same elephant has killed a number of people in the region and has destroyed over a dozen properties. The conflict is said to be due to the expansion of the village into areas frequented by the migrating elephants.
The 10-month-old’s parents, Dipak Mahato and wife, Lalita, were interrupted during their dinner when they heard a loud “cracking” noise coming from their bedroom. They ran over and were surprised to see their wall in ruins and the tusker standing over their child. The baby was lying in its cot surrounded by pieces of rubble. The elephant started to move away to continue its rampage through the village, but when the child began to cry, the tusker stopped and returned to the scene. It started to lift the pieces of wall out of the way with its trunk to free the child. The elephant carefully removed every bit of mortar, brick and stone away from the crib before returning to the forest.
The father reportedly said that the Lord Ganesh (the elephant god) was one of the gods they worshipped in the village, but he was still amazed at the beast’s actions. He described the incident as miraculous. The child was taken to local hospital Deben Mahato Sadar to be treated for external injuries, but she is now in a stable condition.
It has recently been discovered that elephants can differentiate between humans based on the sound of their voice. They are able to tell if the human is safe or not, also they can distinguish between men, women and children. They are not even fooled by an altered male voice. Elephants make the decision to run or fight with lightening speed. This is evidence of how they have learned to adapt to humanity.
Samir Bose, a ranger of the Jhalda city region, is reported to have said that it is difficult to monitor the behavior and positioning of one lone elephant. The decreasing of the indigenous forest in the area as man takes the land for cultivation purposes has disrupted the elephant migration corridor, which has resulted in increased raiding of villages by the animals. He was surprised that the elephant had stopped to save the crying baby after its rampage that destroyed the house. He said he thought the animal, which had killed several people in the past, may have a heart after all.
By Sara Watson