Jalpaiguri, July 29: Two tuskers entered a village near here and Dhupguri town early this morning and rampaged for more than nine hours.
No one was injured. According to a source, the elephants entered Gossainhat, a village close to Dhupguri town, around 40km from here, from the neighbouring Sonakhali forest around 12.30am today.
“I had just finished dinner when some of my neighbours said that two elephants had entered our village. We rushed to see the animals. The jumbos damaged a couple of houses in our locality, including my kitchen. Throughout the night, the animals were in the village and headed for Dhupguri town early this morning,” said Partha Roy, a resident of Gossainhat.
After getting the news, forest staff of the Binnaguri wildlife squad and from the Moraghat forest range reached the spot.
The animals later entered ward 1 of Dhupguri town. Around 5am, both the tuskers stopped in front of the girls’ hostel of Dhupguri College. As the news spread, several residents came out to the see the elephants in the town.
The elephants broke a wall of the block hospital located in ward 1 and the boundary walls of some adjoining buildings. The animals then entered ward 8 of the town.
Seeing the elephants damage some of the houses, local people started throwing stones and shouting at the animals. The elephants then entered Kshudirampally, in ward 7, crossed Gilandi, a local stream, and reached Vivekanandapara in ward 6.
The crowd kept on following the jumbos, as foresters started steering the animals towards Thakurpat, a locality outside the town and near Sonakhali forest, by chasing them and bursting crackers.
Around 9.30am, both the elephants returned to the forest, much to the relief of the foresters. “It was a great experience to see two tuskers in the town,” said Kanan Dutta, an elderly resident.
Binoy Krishna Burman, the state forest minister, said the shortage of fodder because of the depleting forest cover was prompting wild animals to enter human habitats.
“The number of wild animals are on the rise while the forest cover is depleting slowly because of the rise in human habitat and the creation of infrastructure. Also, there is a common trend in north Bengal to take the cattle to forest grasslands for grazing,” Burman said.
“We are mulling over the proposal to restrict the entry of cattle in forests to ensure that wild animals get adequate fodder,” he added.