| The carcass of the elephant at Bamandangi. A Telegraph picture
Bamandangi (Nepal), July 11: The discovery of the mutilated carcass of a female elephant here — in Nepal’s Jhapa district — today has revived the spectre of organised poaching in the pachyderm corridor bordering India.
The 25-year-old elephant had fallen to bullets near a bamboo grove close to the Mechi river yesterday. The spot is 20km from Panitanki, the last border town on the Indian side.
“A herd comprising seven elephants, including a calf and the dead one, had been here for the past couple of days. It had come from the other side of the border (read India),” said Rakesh Tamang, a resident. “Yesterday, we heard the moaning of the injured elephant and saw other herd members encircling it. It died soon and the others left one by one, taking the calf with them.”
Dilip Sapkota, a local veterinary surgeon summoned by the Jhapa divisional forest department, said: “The poachers severed its ears, portions of the trunk, molar teeth, tail, and took away even its teats and vaginal parts. They also chopped off all the nails.” He confirmed that the three wounds had been caused by bullets. “Two had entered the head and one on the right side above the foreleg.”
Anil Kumar Gupta, the range officer of Jhapa looking after the Chandraguri beat where the carcass was found, said: “We got the information yesterday afternoon but could not approach the elephant as other members of the herd were around.”
“This morning we found it dead and the body mutilated. Residents of the area monitoring the herd since yesterday said at least one more elephant had sustained injuries. We are trying to trace the culprits,” Gupta said.
He said elephant herds cross the Mechi — marking the international border — every day and enter Nepal. “Several human casualties and loss of property have been reported,” he said.
The animal was buried at the spot this evening.
Though foresters and Bamandangi residents said the crime had been committed by poachers, environmentalists in north Bengal think otherwise. “At least 15 elephants have died in Bamandangi and Kalabari located on the Indian side in the past 20 years,” said Animesh Bose, programme coordinator of the Siliguri-based Himalayan Nature and Adventure Foundation.
“We suspect a section of villagers were involved in the incident as they treat elephants as intruders. Poachers don’t usually kill females, as they do not have tusks. The body parts that have been severed are not valuable and have been taken away merely as mementoes or out of superstition,” he added.