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Jumbo’s piece of cake

The elephant that ate the cakes at the Bankura shops. Picture by Santosh Kumar Mandol

Mejia (Bankura), Dec. 27: Thousands turned up at Lalit Great Eastern in Calcutta for Christmas cakes.

The cake connoisseur at two Bankura shops came on four legs and had his task, er tusk, cut out — it curved the fruitcakes out of the foils with its trunk and ate 65 pieces.

And no, the local shopkeepers were not singing carols in joy, they burst crackers to chase away the unwelcome guest — an adult male elephant.

The wild tusker entered Ramchandrapur village in Mejia from a neighbouring forest on Christmas morning, damaged two grocers’ shops and before leaving, ate the 65 fruitcakes that the owners had stocked for the festive season.

Shopkeepers in the village have stopped selling cakes since then, fearing that the elephant could return with its herd for another bite. Ramchandrapur residents are going to Mejia town, 5km away, to buy cakes.

Shyamal Sadhu, the 40-year-old owner of one of the shops, said: “The elephant must have liked the cake’s taste. Other tuskers belonging to its herd could come to the village, attracted by the cakes.”

Basudeb Gorai, a farm labourer who was going to the field, said he was “initially amused” to see the elephant gorging on the cakes.

“But when the tusker started to destroy the shop, I raised the alarm,” he said.

Gorai said the shop had not opened then and the jumbo had broken the door to gain access.

Villagers burst crackers and chased the elephant with torches and sticks. The tusker got irritated and damaged six more shops before ambling into the forest.

Some residents said the elephant had a leg injury.

Forest officials said 19 elephants lived in the dense forests around the village.

Borjora forest range officer Mohan Sit said one of the 19 jumbos had a leg injury. “We have identified the elephant that entered the village,” he said.

Mejia forest range officer Tarun Banerjee laughed when he was told about the tusker eating cakes. “The government pays compensation when elephants kill people or destroy houses and crops. We will pay compensation in this case too,” he said.