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Home is where the herd is

- Dalma elephants back in sanctuary after 10 months

Jamshedpur, June 10: The picturesque Dalma Wildlife Sanctuary is once again basking in the presence of its prodigals.

Elephant herds have ambled back to the 102sqkm park after staying in the jungles of Bankura and West Midnapore in Bengal for the past 10 months. If sanctuary sources are to be believed, all the 156-odd members of the jumbo family are home, with the last herd of 40, including calves, reaching Dalma via Narsingpur late last Friday.

Dalma guard Kaleshwar Bhagat confirmed that the elephants had overstayed in Bengal. “We were waiting for their return since March. But only two dozen had returned to the sanctuary in the past two months. Most moved into the core area while others stayed scattered around the reserve. Two herds were seen near Badka Bandh last week. Calves have been spotted in good numbers,” he said.

Range officer Mangal Kashyap too confirmed that Dalma was in full strength again. “All the elephants are back home. They have been spotted in the sanctuary,” he said, adding that there was plenty of food and water for the animals.

“The 90-odd watering holes and 12 check dams are overflowing. The elephants had gone to Bengal in August/September last year and were expected to return in February or by the first week of March this year. Abundance of food and water in Bankura and West Midnapore had lured them to extend their stay,” he reiterated.

Besides ensuring availability of food for the jumbos, the Dalma authorities are also doing their best to stave off man-animal conflict. They have revamped kutcha roads and plugged potholes with clay to make it motorable.

“Now, our patrol parties can reach villages swiftly in case of any herd attack. Bushes have also been trimmed,” a forester said.

Elephant herds generally begin returning to the Dalma sanctuary after the end of the harvest season in Bengal. They follow two corridors — one from Jhunjka and the other from Burudih.

The first one leads to Nutandih while the second passes through Narsingpur in Ghatshila range, Suklara and Aamdapahari. Both corridors merge at Mirjadih from where the animals cross Haludbani, Bhadodih, Bota and Dimna to reach the reserve.