regular-article-logo Wednesday, 04 October 2023

Foresters plan killer elephant’s shift

Rogue animal awaits transportation from Jungle Mahal to Buxa in Alipurduar

Snehamoy Chakraborty Calcutta Published 13.01.23, 02:56 AM
Wild elephants roaming in the Jungle Mahal

Wild elephants roaming in the Jungle Mahal File picture

The forest department has finalised a plan to tranquillise and capture a rogue wild elephant that killed two persons in Bankura district in the past 48 hours and despatch the animal from the Jungle Mahal to the Buxa Tiger Reserve in Alipurduar district.

The move to send the killer elephant around 680km away is part of an attempt to reduce the possibility of more loss of lives in western districts where forest cover dwindled steadily in recent years.


A source in the forest department has said the rogue elephant belongs to a herd of 180-odd elephants currently roaming around in Purulia, Bankura, Jhargram and West Midnapore districts and it has already been identified. This elephant killed a septuagenarian woman asleep at home in Borjorain, Bankura district, on early Wednesday. The animal pulled down the wall of the mud hut, took the woman out with its trunk and trampled her to death.

On Tuesday, the elephant had killed a 45-year-old who was returning home after buying medicine for his wife. The animal also went on a rampage in the area.

“We have tracked the behaviour of the herd for some time and realised that this particular animal has often strayed out of the pack, entered residential areas and attacked humans without any provocation. The decision to send it to the dense forests in Alipurduar is part of an attempt to reduce the possibility of more loss of lives in elephant attacks in the area,” said a forest officer.

The forest cover in north Bengal, especially in Alipurduar, is far denser than in parts of the Jungle Mahal, where the herd has been moving for the past few days.

“Once the animal is shifted to a dense forest area, the chances of it straying into human habitats will reduce,” added the source.

In the past six months, at least 15 persons were killed by elephants in the Jungle Mahal, which triggered protests against authorities in several areas. During her visit to the Jungle Mahal in November, chief minister Mamata Banerjee had expressed her concern over rising fatalities in elephant attacks and asked the forest department to take necessary action.

Shifting an elephant, which has a habit of turning rogue, to a forest about 680km away is a Herculean task as the project will involve the participation of various wings of the forest department, said chief conservator of forests (central circle) S. Kulandivel.

“We have already communicated with the special team in north Bengal, which would come here with this specific assignment.... The process will involve spotting the elephant in the herd, then tranquilising it and finally transporting the animal to the earmarked area. It would take at least two or three days to complete the process of shifting the elephant to the Buxa Tiger Reserve,” said Kulandivel.

Multiple sources in the department said another rogue elephant had been transported to Alipurduar from south Bengal in November.

“There has not been any news of crop damage or loss of lives in Alipurduar and adjoining areas by elephants in the past few months... This means the rogue elephant, which was transported around two-and a-half months ago, has settled down in its new habitat and refrained from entering human settlements,” explained a source.

The increasing incidents of attack by elephants in human habitats have become a political issue in the run-up to panchayat polls. At least a dozen protest programmes like agitation, road blockades and attacks on foresters were reported in the past 45 days.

On Thursday, a group of villagers agitated in front of the Barjora forest range office seeking protection for their lives and livelihood.

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