Two rogue elephants stray into Uttarakhand from Nepal, forest officials fail to track them
Uttarakhand forest officials have failed to track two elephants from Nepal a fortnight after they ventured into the state’s Udham Singh (US) Nagar. Forest officials said they have spotted the animals’ pugmarks several times but have not been able to track them because of the tall bushes.
Last year also, two rogue elephants from Nepal had created panic in border areas of Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand. After straying from Nepal on June 27 last year into Uttarakhand’s Khatima area in US Nagar district and later into Uttar Pradesh, the tuskers killed five people, causing panic in the bordering districts like Rampur, Pilibhit, Bareilly, Moradabad and US Nagar.
“This time, two elephants from Shuklafata sanctuary in western Nepal came to the bordering areas of US Nagar nearly two weeks ago. Villagers spotted them and informed us. Our teams have been trying to track them to ensure they don’t enter villages and endanger human lives or damage crops or properties,” said Babu Lal, sub-divisional officer (SDO), forest, Khatima.
Lal said it is not clear whether these two elephants are the same tuskers as those of the last year. “Ultimately, they were tranquilised before being shifted from Bilaspur area of Rampur to Khatima,” he said.
Last year, forest officials from India and Nepal had met in Pilibhit Tiger Reserve to discuss how effective measures could be taken to monitor and check the entry of elephants from Nepal into the bordering areas of Uttarakhand and Uttar Pradesh, where they have been damaging crops and killing or injuring people.
The SDO said their main concern is to track them and not let them come near the villages. “These elephants from Nepal have become a mystery for forest officials here. Despite patrolling by teams of forest officials, they haven’t succeeded in locating the animals yet. Only their pugmarks have been spotted, not the elephants,” he said.
Lal said, “Their location, Nakhatal area of forest, is close to the Nepal border and a traditional elephant corridor. The area is rich in terms of fodder and water. High bushes in the forest due to rainy season are creating a hindrance in spotting them.”
Jeevan Chandra Joshi, conservator of forest (CCF), western circle, and Nitish Mani Tripathi, divisional forest officer (DFO), Terai-East, also visited the area last week to take stock of the situation. “Our concern is that they should not enter villages and attack people. We have instructed our officials to trace them and keep a watch on their movement round-the-clock,” said Tripathi.
AG Ansari, a Ramnagar-based wildlife expert, said, “Nakhatal connects the elephant corridor in Uttarakhand to Nepal. These elephants from Nepal keep moving in this corridor. Due to the dense growth of bushes these days, it is a bit challenging to locate them,” he said.