Elephants go on the rampage in West Bengal tea estate

      A herd of elephants from the jungles of Baikunthapur strayed into a tea estate in West Bengal 's Jalpaiguri district and destroyed shrubs at the tea gardens. The herd entered the Dumdim Tea Estate located in Dooars region from the nearby forest during the night. On losing their way in the gardens, the elephants could not move out before dawn. With the break of dawn, the workers came out and found the animals stranded in the middle of the garden area. Gradually as the news spread, a huge crowd gathered among whom many were armed with stones chips and other handy things to drive away the herd so as to avoid any further destruction. "These elephants come regularly and disturb us a lot," said Ratan Karki , a worker. When their endeavours failed to give any positive results, residents had to summon the forest officials from the Targhera Range of the Baikunthapur Wildlife-II Sanctuary. The forest officials came in and tried to drive away the animals from the tea garden to the forest habitat. The officials fired blank shots to frighten the pachyderms but their efforts too went in vain. "We have come here to drive these animals back to the forests, but residents are not supporting us. There is a problem of law and order and so we have informed the police," said Dulal Chandra Das , Targhera Range Forest Officer, Baikunthapur Wildlife-II Sanctuary. Later, the herd on its own moved towards the forest region, bringing much relief to the forest rangers and the residents as well. Experts have repeatedly opined that massive deforestation, poaching and people encroaching upon forest corridors have forced the elephants to move out of their natural habitats in search of food and water. India has over 50 per cent of Asiatic elephants, considered to be among the most intelligent animals but its population has dwindled over the recent years.

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