WILDLIFE: Neora on jumbo census map – a joy to watch for the wildlife enthusiasts, getting the dung smelling ‘Kunkis’ right ?!!
FROM THE TELEGRAPH CORRESPONDENT
Jalpaiguri, Nov. 24: The elephant census has been extended to the Sakam forest at the edge of Neora Valley National Park this time. For the past two years, jumbos had been spotted using the 800-foot-high patch of land in Neora as their corridor.
This morning, on the first day of the three-day census, beat officer Mahesh Roy — who was part of a team on foot in Sakam, 129km from Jalpaiguri — recorded the sighting of seven elephants.
The direct sighting method of count had been adopted for the first day. Tomorrow elephant dung will be collected for analysis and on the last day of the census the foresters plan to carry out fixed-point sightings of herds and individual jumbos.
The census will cover Gorumara National Park, Chapramary and Mahananda sanctuaries, the lower Sakam range of the Neora national park, Baikunthapur forest division and Singalila — a total forest area of around 1659sqkm.
Over a hundred teams of forest staff and NGOs are conducting the elephant count that began at the crack of dawn and went on till 11am. The elephant population was estimated to be about 350 in the last census in 2008.
According to foresters, 10 teams, comprising three members each, are on kunkis or pet elephants to conduct the census.
For three-year-old Teesta, a kunki, this was the first outing deep in the forest. “She was a bit nervous but followed our other kunki, Rani, into the Engdong block where we spotted a herd of dozen elephants.
Teesta was scared at seeing wild elephants but soon she gathered herself together and lifted her trunk to smell the herd,” said beat officer Sunil Dey, who was riding Rani.
The divisional forest officer of the Jalpaiguri wildlife, Sumita Ghatak, said the census would also help look into the food habits of the elephants and find out if their diet has changed over the years. “We are also looking out for ailing or injured elephants,” she said.
The conservator of forests, northern circle, Bipin Sood, said many elephants from Assam crossed the Sankosh and Mechi rivers to enter the forests of north Bengal.
“We are hopeful that with the number of calves sighted today and over the past two years, the elephant population would touch the 400 mark this time. We will reveal the census results by next month,” Sood said.
Injured king cobra rescued – better to save the snake than some Bengal politicians we know, who say one thing and do another and try their obdurate tricks on controlling their colonialist minions they stupidly think they can fool in a secular India now 63 years independent, when they sadly can’t even look after their own kind properly ?!!
FROM THE TELEGRAPH CORRESPONDENT
Alipurduar, Nov. 24: A male king cobra, probably injured in a fight with a mongoose, was rescued this morning by the forest staff on elephant census duty.
The snake, over 12-feet-long, was spotted in the Panbari forest of the Buxa Tiger Reserve.
A range officer of the reserve, Bhabesh Basumata, was leading a team on foot to sight elephants in the forest when they spotted the reptile near a waterhole.
“We had reached the waterhole where elephants often come with the hope of sighting them when we spotted the snake under a tree. It was a huge snake and at first we thought that it was dead. But when I poked it with a snake stick, it stirred. We saw that its lower jaw was badly damaged and it was weak. We took it to the veterinary unit at Rajabhatkhaowa,” said Basumata. He added that the reptile was weak and could hardly move. It has been kept in an empty enclosure at the unit.
Manas Kundu, the veterinarian treating the snake, has instructed the staff members to feed the reptile glucose and antibiotics with the help of a pipe. “The snake is 12.5-feet-long and seems to be over 10 years old,” said Kundu. King cobras feed only on other snakes and sometimes lizards. They have a life span of about 20 years.
“We suspect that the wound is from a fight with a mongoose. We fed the snake chicken soup today. We are trying our best to keep it alive,” said Kundu.
Deputy field director (west) of the tiger reserve, R. Jakhar, also suspected that the injury was caused in a fight with a mongoose. “The snake is seriously injured and chances of its survival are slim. However, our vets are trying their best to keep it alive.”