Jumbos' day out - Tourists gather to watch playful herd

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  • Published 11.11.13

Nov. 10: Tourists in the Dooars today got a rare Sunday treat of seeing four elephants playing in a tea garden all morning.

Visitors travelling in the Dooars noticed the two adult jumbos and two calves in the scenic Aibheel Tea Estate in Metelli, 65km from Siliguri, in the morning.

Residents, too, gathered at the tea garden as the animals frolicked.

The tourists clicked photographs as four drenched each other and themselves in the water of the Murti river that skirts the garden.

The animals also played in the dust.

Foresters rushed to the spot and tried to direct the quartet to the nearby Sakam forest but the jumbos did not seem to be bothered about human presence around them.

According to forest sources, the animals, which roam near the elephant corridor that stretches from near Naxalbari on the Indo-Nepal border till the Sankosh river on the Bengal-Assam border, enter the Sakam forest in Kalimpong from the Chapramari wildlife sanctuary.

“The corridor to Sakam passes by the side of tea estates such as Aibheel and Kilkot. This herd of four seems to have lost its way and entered Aibheel tea estate. We have sent a team of foresters to direct the elephants to Sakam,” a senior forester in Jalpaiguri said this morning.

Around 6am, the four elephants entered Aibheel, beside the Murti river.

As the news spread, garden workers and their families rushed to the locality to see the animals. Staff of the elephant squad based in Khunia, around 10km away, also headed to the spot.

“The elephants, though they saw us, did not go into the forest. They were enjoying themselves. It was as if an elephant family was on a day out. They ate some grass or walked into the Murti river and drenched themselves or tossed dust on each other. We felt that they were oblivious of our presence,” said Krishanu Malik, a worker of Aibheel who was among the hundreds of onlookers.

As time passed, more and more people, started pouring into the tea garden.

“We are staying in Lataguri (around 15km away) and were going to Lava (in Kalimpong) on a day trip. But as we learnt that four elephants are frolicking in the Aibheel tea estate, so we decided to stop,” said Sunil Roy of Behala in Calcutta, who is on a trip to Dooars with his family.

“It was an excellent view. We have never seen wild elephants so close and in such a happy mood. It was like an elephant family having fun on a weekend. We clicked several pictures,” he added.

Till 5.30pm, the elephants had not left the estate though the crowd had thinned at dusk.