The denizens of Dalma have embarked on their annual migration.
After staying anchored for a little over two months at the wildlife sanctuary near Jamshedpur, elephant herds started taking the migratory route to the jungles of Bengal on Sunday night.
The exit from the 192sqkm sanctuary is steady with around 70 elephants, including calves, trundling towards Bengal via Bota, Pagda, Lailam and Jhunjka.
“Some of the jumbos stay at the reserve throughout the year. Of the 156 elephants, 22 will remain in the sanctuary while others have started heading for West Midnapore and Bankura,” said a forester.
According to the 2012 census, elephant population at Dalma stands at 156. No census was conducted in 2013 and 2014.
Dalma range officer Mangal Kachhap said that the animals were migrating to Bengal after over two months of stay at the sanctuary. “Actually, the elephants had overstayed in West Midnapore and Bankura this year. All our jumbos had returned in June. The staying trend of the elephants has witnessed a marked change this year,” he added.
While few elephants had returned from Bengal in February, some were back in April. But the rest of the jumbos returned in June only. They usually return to Dalma in February-March.
Asked about what held the jumbos back in the Bengal jungles, Kachhap said, “Abundance of food and water. We expect our jumbo family to be back at Dalma in February-March next year.”
The Dalma range office has also distributed crackers and mashals to villagers who live along the elephant corridor, as a precautionary measure. “We are always concerned about the safety of the villagers,” said a forest functionary.
Visitors will not be able to see elephants after a week or so. “The jumbos were scattered inside the sanctuary after they returned from Bengal. Lucky visitors could spot elephants. But chances are always bleak, as they mostly prefer to remain confined to the core area,” he added.