| Chanchal Sarkar and Ranjit Mukherjee with the dead elephant in a Chhattisgarh forest
Thirteen people dead and more than 1,200 hamlets destroyed. It was time to send an SOS to the hunting heroes of Bengal, Chanchal Sarkar and Ranjit Mukherjee. The duo has now become the toast of a few hundred villages in Chhattisgarh, after killing the rogue elephant responsible for the months of mayhem last week.
The two professional hunters reached Chhattisgarh on Sunday, responding to a distress call from the state government, which was at its wit’s end following the large-scale death and devastation caused by a rogue elephant in a string of villages.
Sarkar and Mukherjee killed the tusker, declared rogue by the wildlife wing of the Chhattisgarh government after its destruction spree during the past few months, at Chiketwani village, in the Dharmajoygarh forest range in Chhattisgarh.
The state government had failed in its efforts to shoot down the wild tusker. The local hunters in the Dharmajoygarh forest range had a similar lack of success. The chief wildlife warden and chief conservator of forests of the Chhattisgarh government, Anoop Bhalla, invited Sarkar and Mukherjee to do the job.
“We received the call last Thursday, and reached Raigarh on Sunday. The same evening, we tracked the elephant down and shot it,” the duo said, back in their south Calcutta homes on Tuesday. “This was an extremely dangerous and cunning animal. It used to tear apart the body of its victims.”
The rogue tusker had taken its last victims two months earlier at the same spot in Chiketwani village. “The two men, probably wood smugglers, had gone to the forest to collect wood. They were killed in the encounter with the elephant. After that, the animal had just vanished into the forest and had not appeared in the area. We were very fortunate to have picked up its trail on the same night that we reached the forest range,” the heroes said.
Apart from attacking villagers, the rogue used to ravage the area and destroy paddy fields by trampling all over them at night. The frightened locals had submitted several memorandums to the forest department asking for the elephant to be hunted down.
Sarkar, a businessman, and Mukherjee, chief security officer at CESC, are the only amateur rogue elephant-hunters recognised by the government of West Bengal. Their total tally is 30 rogue elephants across the country in the past 25 years.