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Jaldapara jumbo attacks tourist cottage

- Lucky escape for Siliguri visitor who got call from home & checked out

Alipurduar July 15: The register of the Jaldapara Jungle Camp resort said Indrajit Mukherjee was supposed to stay the night at the Torsha tourist cottage, but at 1am the room was hosting a plundering tusker.

Thankfully, Indrajit Mukherjee, a medical representative from Siliguri, was not in the room. He had checked in sometime in the afternoon, but left around 7pm after getting a call from his home, according to sources in the resort.

Jaldapara Jungle Camp is cheek by jowl to Jaldapara National Park, which has many jumbos.

Elephants have been sighted near tourist resorts earlier, but last night’s jumbo attack was perhaps the first time an animal entered a tourist hut.

The Jaldapara National Park is 48km from Alipurduar town.

According to the staff of the resort, at 12.45am, the tusker entered the campus of the resort after it broke a portion of boundary wall, which was made of bamboo mat. Each two-room hut has a name. The one the elephant attacked is called Torsha. The charge for a night’s stay is Rs 1,000.

The tusker first uprooted a few trees, then went towards the room.

Half the height of the wall is made of brick, the rest is bamboo mat to give the huts a feel of a jungle residence.

The tusker dragged a mattress from the room outside and broke the furniture in the hut.

The staff of the resort along with forest guards, who had been alerted by then, tried to distract the tusker but for more than one hour, the animal roamed in the resort and plundered.

Luckily, the huts neighbouring Torsha — there are 12 huts in total — were all empty.

Biswajit Saha, the owner of the private lodge, said: “This is not the first time that an elephant has entered the resort.” But he said the animals had never entered any cottage and attacked tourists before.

“On June 3, when the chief minister was at Madarihat, the rooms in this resort were packed. A number of security personnel and a few tourists stayed in cottages. A few elephants entered the campus that night and went very close to the rooms, but luckily did not damage any cottage,” said Saha.

He said some of the tourists told him later that “they were watching the elephants from the rooms and one animal went close to the doors also. They were frightened but also quite thrilled.”

He said that last night, the foresters fired a couple of rounds in the air and also ignited crackers, but could not drive out the tusker immediately.

Mukherjee, a medical representative from Siliguri, could not be contacted.

Saha said he would plant lemon trees “around the boundary wall as elephants are scared of its thorns”.

On the other hand, more lights will be put near the boundary and will remain on throughout the night.