Jumbos stuck, crowd gathers

Elephant herd fails to find route to Chapramari, say foresters

By OUR CORRESPONDENT in Jalpaiguri
  • Published 10.09.18
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An elephant from the herd chases people near Indong tea estate on Sunday. Picture by Biplab Basak

Jalpaiguri: A wild elephant herd was stuck in a tea garden in the Dooars on Sunday with thousands of onlookers gathering to catch a glimpse of the animals in Matialli block of Jalpaiguri.

Foresters said the animals had been left stranded in the Indong tea garden as they couldn't find a route to reach the adjoining Chapramari Wildlife Sanctuary. Later, a few elephants were steered by the foresters to the jungle.

Local people said a herd of over 25 elephants, including 10 calves, had entered the estate, around 45 km from Jalpaiguri.

"The herd was first spotted at Indong in the morning. People started coming in hundreds to watch the elephants and most of them gathered on the bank of the Kurti. With the crowd increasing, the elephants became puzzled and could not find a way out to reach the forest. The herd then moved near an under-construction ITI," said Santosh Bhakta, a resident of Matialli.

A section of the curious onlookers started teasing the herd. Some moved closer to click photos on their cellphones while others tossed bricks, stones and sticks at the animals. The herd turned agitated and one of the elephants came out and chased people, who then ran away. The animal also damaged a motorcycle.

Matialli police and foresters from the Malbazar wildlife squad and Khunia forest range reached the spot. They had some tough time to control the crowd and keep people at a safe distance. Around 11am, the foresters could send around 17 elephants to Chapramari forest.

As some more animals were still stuck, the foresters cordoned off the area and with the help of the police to prevent people from disturbing the elephants.

"These elephants perhaps entered the locality from Chapramari on Saturday late evening. But before the sunrise, the herd lost its trail and failed to return to the jungle. We are keeping a close watch on the herd," said Kinu Roy, Khunia forest range officer.