Foresters alert to 88 elephants in Bankura
Snehamoy Chakraborty, Telegraph India
January 21, 2023
Foresters in Bankura are facing the jumbo task of restraining the movement
of around 88 elephants, split into multiple groups, who are searching for
food at a time when 80 per cent of fields are vacant after the Kharif paddy
harvest, putting human habitats at risk.
“As fields are almost empty as harvesting season is almost over and there
is no other source of food for animals here, elephants are moving around at
various locations in search of food. This has left us with the huge
challenge to handle 88 odd elephants, the largest herd in the area in
recent memory,” said Umar Imam, the divisional forest officer, Bankura
“However, around 100 foresters are relentlessly tracking the movement of
elephants,” he added.
The number of elephants in Bankura north division increased after a fresh
herd of 30 entered the district from West Midnapore on January 10.
“This is the highest number of elephants we are handling at one time in a
division in recent memory. Senior forest officials and staff from various
ranges have been deployed in crisis zones. Over 100 foresters, including
the divisional forest officer, are spending sleepless nights since January
10, monitoring the animals,” said a source.
Several foresters, who have worked in elephant zones in Jungle Mahal
districts, said elephants usually came from Dalma range of Jharkhand and
Odisha in search of ripe crops.
“Though a large number of crops are damaged during the stay of the
elephants, the crops help save human lives. Right now, that buffer is
almost gone. There are a few potatoes or cabbages on the field, but they’re
only 20 per cent of the total cultivated land. The situation is manageable
if there are 30-40 elephants but this number is more than double,” said a
senior forest officer.
Foresters said that the new herd from West Midnapore, especially “one or
two particularly rough elephants”, were creating problems.
Three people were killed and a forester was injured by elephants in Bankura
in the past 10 days.
Sources said 15 persons were killed by elephant attacks in the past six
months in the district.
Sources said that ruling Trinamul is worried about elephant attacks and the
anger of people as the party fears it could impact votes ahead of the