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Wild jumbo perishes at Bhutiachang tea estate

By Correspondents

UDALGURI/KALAIGAON, May 28 � It is due to the unabated felling of trees in the reserve forest areas of Udalguri district that the wild elephants which have lost their usual living habitat and vast grassland have made the habit of making their way to the extended human settlements, giving rise to the man-elephant conflict.

A wild jumbo, which had been separated from its companions, on Tuesday entered the Bhutiachang tea estate area where the tea estate management had placed electrified wires to ward off wild elephants. As expected, the jumbo fell prey to the design and perished.

According to sources, the wild jumbo was about twelve years old and might have got diverted from its route to the wrong area, leaving its herd behind.

Meanwhile, Dithakananda Hazarika, circle officer of Harisinga revenue circle, Haladhar Kalita, ranger of Nonoi range and Dr Ranjan Sarmah, veterinary officer, conducted a preliminary investigation into the tragic death of the wild jumbo and sent a portion of the carcass for further examination.

The sources further disclosed that nine such wild elephants died last year under the Harisinga revenue circle. Due to the increasing man-elephant conflict, one Baba Darjee of Orangajuli Tea Estate in Udalguri district died on May 21. The villagers of the area are of the opinion that the main reason behind the man-elephant conflict is the �passive outlook� of the Forest department which has failed to check the felling of trees in the reserve forests by anti-social elements.

Talking to this correspondent, a social worker of Nonaikhuti said that unless the Forest department takes stern action against the anti-social elements, which have been responsible for unabated felling of trees, it will be quite impossible to check deforestation in the Nonoi forest range.

The social worker also suggested to the Government to depute a special task force along with skilled Forest officials in the Nonoi forest range to protect the remaining forest resources. He also suggested to the Government to take the help of local units of All Bodo Students� Union, All Assam Adivasi Students� Association, All Assam Gorkha Students� Union and non-government social organisations and nature clubs for fruitful outcome in this regard.

Meanwhile, the death of the wild elephant has been condoled by nature lovers of the district. Although the primary evidence indicated electrocution as the cause of death, people engaged in conservation activities have different ideas. According to them, the elephant could possibly have been poisoned to death by villagers.

Ananta Bagh, CEO of Green Valley Forest and Wildlife Protection Society, said that it was the habit of a section of people to disturb roaming wild elephants. He alleged that tea garden, Forest and ASEB authorities had failed to protect these elephants.

Another nature activist remarked that the regular deaths of wild elephants in the district were alarming. According to him, the illegal erection of electric fencings to protect both small and big tea gardens, overhead power cables and use of pesticides could be the causes of such regular deaths.

It needs mention that a wild elephant was electrocuted at Section No 11 in Nonoipar TE on October 29, 2008. The cause of death was declared as heart attack. But informed sources said that they had seen tea garden executives directing workers to remove loose electric wires from the spot of the incident early in the morning on that day.

Nature lovers also allege that the post-mortem reports were never made public. B Deka, senior manager of Bhutiachang TE, ruled out electrocution as the cause of death and remarked that the death could have occurred due to consumption of poisonous food outside the tea garden areas.

Bankim Sarma, DFO, Dhansiri Forest Division, Udalguri said that investigation was on and preventive measures would be taken to stop recurrence of such incidents.

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