A stranded herd of around 44 wild elephants is on the rampage in a Ghatsila forest, turning violent whenever a villager approaches it.
Villagers, who depend on the forest for produce and wood, have been restricted to their villages for over a week, terrified that the elephants will harm them — one tribal man has already been severely injured by the elephants and is currently critical. Their distress is also financially motivated — their income is dependent on the mushrooms, sal leaves, kendu leaves, medicinal herbs and other minor forest products which they collect.
Anta Sabar of Basadera said, “I collect medicinal herbs and roots and supply them to the Ghatsila market but due to the presence of elephants, for last one week I have been unable to venture into the forest”.
The authorities have identified the herd but have been unable to take steps to escort them out of the area so far.
“A herd of wild elephants from West Bengal is stranded along the state border in Basadera forest of Ghatsila, as the West Bengal forest department has dug a deep and wide trench on the migrating corridor of elephants,” Ghatsila forest range officer SK Verma said.
“The trench is about 8-10 feet wide and eight feet deep, so it is difficult for elephants to cross it with its young. We reported the matter to higher authorities and Divisional Forest Officer (DFO) SA Ansari assured that he will discuss the matter with his West Bengal counterpart to solve it,” he said.