Maoists are on the back foot, but elephants are becoming a headache for the district administration in Jangalmahal area.
Besides local elephants in West Midnapore and Bankura divisions, a team of elephants from Dalma range, which entered the district some time earlier, has got the forest department worried.
As the herd is moving in a part of West Midnapore district at least four people died in the attack and the herd also destro a huge amount of crops and houses.
“For the last 15 days, the herd is moving in different parts of the district. Four people were killed and the herd also ransacked houses, vegetables and crops. We are taking all possible steps so that the elephants do not come near the locality. The process of giving the compensation is being initiated,” said Rabindranath Saha, DFO of Rupnarayan division.
Already there are about 40 residential elephants staying in the zone.
According to forest department officials, food habits of the elephants, particularly of the Dalma range, have changed a lot from that of the previous times, and as there is a scarcity of food in the region the herd is not staying there for a long time and is moving into areas of West Midnapore and Bankura districts.
The forest department is also taking steps so that the elephants can be ‘confined’ to the forests where they can have sufficient food. And therefore, they would not come to the locality and damage crops.
“To keep the elephants in the forest there is an urgent need of sufficient food, water and trees. If we can create a suitable atmosphere in the forest, we will be able to confine the elephants there. Therefore, they will not encroach the locality,” said Anjan Guha, Kharagpur DFO.
According to the forest department, the elephants from the Dalma range started to come in the area in the 80s and at that time there were hardly 10 elephants in the herd. But now the number has reached 150.
They normally enter the area in August and leave by April end.
But this year, a herd had returned to the district before the scheduled time.
Every year the number of elephants are increasing as a section of the herd of the Dalma range are not going back.
Not only in West Midnapore, but the number of elephants living in Bankura district is also increasing.
“Last year, about 15 elephants of the group that came from Dalma had not returned. And the elephants are causing damages both to human lives and crops. We are taking steps to keep them in the forests but this has not been possible all the time. It is not possible for us to keep track of them as there is a scarcity of sufficient number of staff in the department. We have briefed the state forest department about the problem,” an official of forest department in Bankura district said.