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Since 1st March, 1999
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Calf dies as power cell takes charge

Siliguri/Alipurduar, June 18: The body of a female elephant calf, suspected to be electrocuted, was found on the dry riverbed of the Mechi, along the Indo-Nepal border, today, even as a special team has been formed to prevent villagers from illegally tapping power lines to electrify fences.

“We suspect the calf aged around three-and-half-years died because of electrocution,” said Sumita Ghatak, the divisional forest officer (wildlife-I) who went to the spot. “We handed over the carcass to officials of Nepal after a meeting with them and the SSB that guards the border.” The spot is located near Naxalbari.

Foresters alleged that residents of Bamandangi in Nepal have hooked power illegally from a high-tension wire and laid it either on the ground or a fence to prevent elephants from entering their villages.

A herd of 45-50 marauding pachyderms have been roaming the Kalabari forest on the banks of the Mechi which is on one end of the Mechi-Sankosh elephant corridor.

“We have information that elephants are suffering injuries while entering the border villages of Nepal. They are either getting hit by bullets, arrows and stones or suffering high voltage electric shocks,” the DFO said. “The residents on the border areas in Nepal should be told not to attack elephants. They can, instead, stop the animals by using crackers and searchlights.”

The 15-member special team formed in the Kodal Basti range in the Cooch Behar forest division will keep vigil over the designated area and inform the electricity department of illegal hooking. It comprises representatives from the forest, police and power departments, the forest protection and eco development committees.

“The team members will tell the villagers that non-bailable cases can be initiated against a landowner and the one who provides the power connection if they are caught for the illegal tapping,” said Ujjwal Ghosh, the DFO of the Cooch Behar division. “Once the villagers realise the gravity of the situation, they will not go for illegal hooking.”

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