| Forest guards ask villagers to keep away from bison. Picture by Main Uddin Chisti |
Marichbari (Cooch Behar), Feb. 23: People of Marichbari and Gopalpur had to go through five hours of ordeal today when two bison entered the villages and went on the rampage, leaving at least 10 persons badly hurt.
The forest department darted both the bulls and trucked them off to the Buxa Tiger Reserve, where they were released.
Sanjib Mitra, a resident of Gopalpur, said he and others spotted the two animals walking along the banks of a small rivulet known locally as Ghorghori around 7am.
“While one bison took off towards Marichbari, the other entered our village and headed straight to the courtyard of Montu Roy’s house. By that time, people had started raising the alarm and running helter-skelter,” said Sanjib.
The bison suddenly began running at full pelt and on its path stood 70-year-old Alizar Miyan. “The bull caught the old man with its horns and flung him up in the air. As he fell on the ground, the bison attacked him with its horns and hooves. I immediately phoned the forest department for help,” said Sanjib.
A team of forest guards, led by divisional forest officer of Cooch Behar, Pinaki Mitra, and additional divisional forest officer, Asimabha Chatterjee, reached Marichbari around 9.30am. They also sent word to the tranquillising team at Buxa and the wildlife squad at Jaldapara for assistance.
By then, six persons, including Alizar Miyan, had been admitted to the MJN Hospital in Cooch Behar, about 30km from the two villages. Miyan was later referred to the North Bengal Medical College and Hospital in Siliguri as his condition was critical.
The injured included a 60-year-old woman and two boys aged 12 and 16 years, said hospital sources. Four others suffered minor injuries in Gopalpur.
The forest staff said the animals had strayed out of the Chilapata forest, about 15km from the two villages.
The dart team reached the spot around 10am and successfully tranquillised a bull that had taken shelter inside a bamboo grove in Gopalpur. The other was sedated in Marichbari.
The forest staff, however, had their work cut out as hundreds of people gathered in the villages to watch the animals. Some of them even climbed trees for a proper view of the marauding bulls.
The guards repeatedly requested the crowd over loudhailers to withdraw so that the darting operation could be conducted smoothly. The villagers, however, helped the forest staff carry the drugged animals and load them into waiting trucks.
Conservator of forests, north Bengal, Manindra Biswas, said both the animals had been darted and later released. “We have successfully released the two animals into Buxa forest,” Biswas said.
The Buxa forest is about 25km from here.
Prafulla Barman, a resident of Marichbari, said he had been terrified by the manner in which the bison had gone on the rampage. “The animal charged at one of my cows and flung it at least 20 feet away; then it began damaging my hut. I scrambled up on a tree and managed to escape. The animal passed beneath the tree,” said Prafulla.