Foresters involved in driving out a herd of 30 elephants in Bankura were on Saturday morning allegedly attacked with sticks by a group of villagers as the animals had been pushed inside their paddy and vegetable fields.
An elephant herder had to be hospitalised. The forest department lodged a police complaint against unidentified villagers for the attack.
“Villagers attacked our men violently. One of them was seriously injured. It is a challenge for us to drive away animals if villagers don’t allow us to use their fields,” said Satyajit Roy, the Panchet divisional forest officer.
The incident took place a day after the same herd went on a rampage in West Midnapore’s Garbeta after residents, in a bid to save their ready-to-harvest crops, prevented foresters from driving away the animals.
Elephants entering human habitats and being driven out by herders is a regular phenomenon in all four Jungle Mahal districts. But as elephants are usually driven to open fields, farmers facing crop damage turn hostile.
“The government gives compensation for crop damage but it takes time. As a result, farmers don’t help us by giving their fields as a passage to steer the elephants,” said a senior forester.
Sources said after the elephants were driven away from Rupnarayan, villagers in Garbeta blocked NH-60 for two hours to protest crop damage.
“Now we are handling aggressive elephants and angry villagers,” said a senior forest official.
“We started an extensive campaign seeking cooperation from villagers,” said Manish Kumar Yadav, Rupnarayan divisional forest officer in West Midnapore.
A man died and another was severely injured as a tusker in Alipurduar district attacked them on Friday night.
Sources said residents of Bengdaki, a village adjacent to Jaldapara National Park in Madarihat, were hosting a ritual to reduce elephant depredation when the tusker walked into the locality and damaged two hutments.
Binod Mallick, 42, who came near the tusker, was trampled to death.
The tusker moved to Bangshidharpur, damaged three hutments and reached Mandalpara of Salkumar where it injured villager Anil Oraon.
Oraon is admitted to the North Bengal Medical College & Hospital.
Foresters said the deceased’s family would get compensation of Rs 5 lakh and the department would bear the cost of treatment of the injured and pay him Rs 50,000.
In Jalpaiguri, a tusker from Diana forest on Friday night entered Bamandanga-Tondoo tea estate and a primary school. When it could not find food, it damaged the doors and windows of the building.