WILDLIFE: Squad to keep away jumbos

WILDLIFE: Squad to keep away jumbos – how high will higher officials have to go to get things finally done in Bengal ?!!

File Photo of Elephants near habitations - higher officials to react only after damage done ?!!

FROM THE TELEGRAPH CORRESPONDENT

Siliguri, Sept. 19: Kurseong forest division will now have a wildlife squad to check elephant depredation in the villages near the India-Nepal border.

“Considering the recent animal raids in the villages across the Naxalbari block and the fringe areas of Kalabari, Tukuriajhar and Bamanpokhri, we had appealed to our higher officials to set up a squad earlier this year. We got the approval last month,” said Y.T. Eden, the divisional forest officer of Kurseong.

According to foresters, three persons were killed and more than 200 huts damaged by elephants in the Naxalbari block this year. “Earlier we had to depend on the squad of Mahananda Wildlife Sanctuary based in Sukna to steer away animals that entered the villages. Once the new unit starts functioning, it will be easier for us to keep away the elephants from these areas,” he said.

The forest department will construct a new office for the unit at Bagdogra. “The squad will be led by a range officer assisted by a beat officer. We are also expecting a vehicle for the wing,” said Eden.

To check the number of elephant deaths on railway tracks, the World Wildlife Federation’s West Bengal State office along with the stakeholders will forward a proposal to the departments concerned to set up a core committee along with a five-point recommendation to departments concerned.

The decision was taken at a meeting last week where representatives of the World Wildlife Federation and officials of the railways, forest, army and members of different NGOs of north Bengal were present.

According to officials of the World Wildlife Federation, 74km of the track between Alipurduar and Siliguri passes through Mahananda Wildlife Sanctuary, Gorumara National Park and Chapramari forests. Nineteen elephants have been mowed down since 2004.

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