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Dalma’s annual jumbo exodus to Bengal starts

Jamshedpur, Aug. 10: A season trumpets, Dalma elephants trot to Bengal.

After staying anchored for six months at Dalma Wildlife Sanctuary in the outskirts of Jamshedpur, giant mammals have started ambling back to neighbouring Bengal.

A herd of 25 elephants, including some tusker calves, is the first to catch the corridor leading to jungles of Midnapore and Bankura. They left the sanctuary on Wednesday afternoon. The 150-odd elephants still in Dalma have climbed down the hills and will follow in the days to come.

Dalma sanctuary officials said elephants are creatures of habit and stick to designated corridors. Herds may be small or large, stops for food and water may vary, but routes or elephant corridors stay the same. Herds head for Bengal through Dalbhumgarh and Seraikela-Kharsawan. One elephant corridor is from Jhunjki and the other is from Burudih. The first one leads to Nutandih while the second passes through Narsingpur (Ghatshila range), Dalapani, Suklara and Aamdapahari.

Jhunjki and Bitapur jungles in Seraikela are favourite stopovers.

“Right now, some migrating elephants are stationed at Suklara near Ghatshila and others in Nutandih. During their trek, they also enjoyed a leisurely bath in a lake near Dimna,” a forest staffer said.

He added that the over 150 elephants still in Dalma had come downhill and were scattered around Bota, Konkadasa and Dhobni, sniffing for corn in the villages.

“Migration of elephants to Bengal depends on their moods. There is abundance of food and water in Dalma. But yes, the elephants will gradually migrate,” he said.

An official at Dalma range office in Mango said elephants normally returned to Dalma by mid-February.

They delayed their return to Dalma by around a fortnight. “Elephants start leaving Midnapore and Bankura in December and reach Dalma by February 15. This year they lazed around in Jhunjki for days together, which delayed their return,” a tracker said.

The Dalma return was pleasant this year thanks to a great monsoon in 2011. Water brimmed in check dams and watering holes, while foliage was abundant on the migration corridors.

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