Home is where the herd is: Elephants at Dalma Wildlife Sanctuary
Like a true “don”, he never leaves his territory.
But then, there are many more like him who refuse to migrate from Dalma Wildlife Sanctuary.
Meet the 22 elephants, including four calves, who will not catch the migration corridor to the jungles of Bankura and West Midnapore in neighbouring Bengal. Unlike the rest, they prefer to remain anchored inside the 192sqkm sanctuary throughout the year, roaming around and feasting on bamboo, paddy and maize.
Temperamental tusker Don, who is best remembered for terrorising a family of Jamshedpur and playing with their car for an agonising 30 minutes during their trip to the sanctuary in 2010, is among the permanent residents.
“He (Don) is moody, but has calmed down now. He does not prefer to be part of any herd. The jumbo with a broken tusk moves alone,” Shiva Mahto, a Dalma villager said.
A forest functionary at Mango range office told The Telegraph: “Almost all 159 elephants have left for the jungles of Bengal. Only 22 are left. They will remain here all their life.”
According to him, four elephants are stationed at Bota while two are in Kadamjor. A herd of 17 is rooted in Jamdih. One calf is among the four jumbos in Bota. Three calves have been spotted with the group at Jamdih.
“A herd of 15 jumbos that was devouring standing maize and trampling freshly sown paddy at Bota has left for Bengal,” he added.
With the elephants bidding goodbye to Bota, villagers have heaved a sigh of relief.
“It’s good news for us. The herd destroyed my maize and paddy farm. I’m happy that it has left Dalma,” said one Santosh Sundi.
The forest functionary, who wished not to be named, said elephants who are born in Dalma never migrate. “We have observed this trend among the pachyderms. The four calves that are not migrating were born in the sanctuary earlier this year. The resident jumbos move in small groups,” he added.
Elephants born in the jungles of Bankura and West Midnapore are the ones to migrate. They depart from Dalma in August and return in February, taking the two designated corridors — one from Jhunjki and the other from Burudih.
The first one leads to Nutandih while the second passes through Narsingpur (Ghatshila range), Dalapani, Suklara and Aamdapahari. There are many stops for food and water, but the routes remain the same.
The elephants are known to straying into villages and destroying crops and houses during their journey. This year too, the herds had gone on the rampage in many villages while returning from Bengal in February.