WILDLIFE: Jumbo killed by power lines

WILDLIFE: Jumbo killed by power lines – accident or poaching by design ?!!

FROM THE TELEGRAPH CORRESPONDENT

Siliguri, Oct. 18: A male elephant whose body was found in a Naxalbari paddy field on Saturday morning had died of electrocution, forest officials today confirmed.

The recovery of the carcass from the paddy field at Madanjote prompted the forest officials to consider holding a meeting with the Naxalbari panchayat samiti to prevent further death of animals from electrocutions.

Six elephants had died unnatural deaths in this division so far this year, the foresters said.

“Considering the nature of injury on the tusk and the back of the full grown elephant, we had asked the vet for a post-mortem to ascertain the cause of death. It is confirmed from the preliminary report of the doctor that the tusker died of electrocution,” said Y.T. Eden, the divisional forest officer of Kurseong, today.

With the crop ready for harvest, elephants often raid the fringe forest villages. “Keeping it in view, we will hold a meeting with the panchayat members, so that we can avoid such incidents further,” the forest official said.

A source from the forest department, however, said a special joint raid would be conducted in the villages of the Naxalbari area soon to find out if any illegal electrical trap had been set up to keep away elephants from the crops. The raid will be conducted with the help of police and power officials.

Amar Sinha, a member of the Naxalbari panchayat samiti, however, said had the forest department taken a more active role to protect the villagers from the elephants, such incidents could have been avoided.

“The foresters should immediately organise training for the youths in the area so that they can take the initial precautionary measure to keep elephants away and alert villagers,” Sinha said.

He, however, denied the villagers’ involvement in using electricity illegally to fence their fields. “If anybody is found involved in taking electric connection illegally, the department should take necessary steps against the person,” Sinha said.

The elephant depredation in the forest fringe villages of the division, which is close to the India-Nepal border, is a problem for both the villagers and the foresters every year.

“We are worried because a herd of about 45 elephants are still roaming the Kalabari and the Dalka forest which may raid the fringe villages any time for the crops. We have increased our night patrolling. We have also pressed into service the wildlife squad that we got from August this year,” the DFO said.

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