Battle zone - a hell for Elephant herds in West Bengal

Posted by: Joydip & Suchandra Kundu on

Jhargram: The marauding Dalma herd, which has been stuck in the Bhaudi forest of Lalgarh, killed a 40-year-old man at Gopalpur on Friday evening. The herd also went on the rampage in the village, demolishing huts and destroying crops. Lulu Kalindi, 

the victim, had left his hut to answer nature’s call when he was attacked from the rear and trampled to death.    

Forest officials said the herd has been trapped near the Bhaudi forest for nearly a fortnight. Usually, the Dalma elephants — which enter Bengal in July — return to Jharkhand through Kantapahari by March-end. The battle between the Maoists and the joint forces has made the herd stray from its corridor this year.    

“Usually, they cross Kansai river, trek through Belatikri, Malabati and Kakrajhor back to Dalma. But this year, they are stuck at Bhaudi for more than a fortnight, which is unusual. Due to the prevailing disturbances, we have not been able to drive away the elephants,” said Lipika Ray, DFO, Lalgarh.    

Forest officials fear that the herd might turn towards Nayagram. If that happens, they could linger there for several more weeks, further dealying the return to Dalma. In the absence of forest staff, who have withdrawn from the jungles in the wake of the security situation, the task of driving the elephants has been left to villagers. “It’s turning more violent and aggressive with each passing day,” said Ray.    

The herd has been delaying its departure from Bengal ever since the Maoists infiltrated the forests and unrest began. Last year, the herd had entered Jharkhand on April 18. But this time, there is no sign yet of the herd undertaking the last leg of its journey.

News courtesy : TOI