By Pinak Priya Bhattacharya
JALPAIGURI: A herd of 25 elephants went on a rampage in the Paschim Simlabari and Sahebpota villages under Patlakhawa gram panchayat in Alipurduar on Thursday night. The herd had come out of Chilapata forest and travelled some 10km to raid the villages.
Though foresters from Chilapata and the elephant squad from Jaldapara reached the villages within hours after the jumbos entered the villages, they managed to drive the elephants back to Chilapata only on Friday.
The entire night, the pachyderms ran amok in the villages damaging four houses. The herd then went to take shelter in a jute field belonging to villager Hamidul Miyan. On Friday morning, finally, forester managed to drive back the herd to Chilapata.
Conflicts between man and elephants are being regularly reported from tea gardens and crop fields adjacent to the forests. Forest villagers and bustee (slum) dwellers cultivate rice and maize, favourite food with elephants. At this time of the year when crops ripen, herds arrive to feast upon it. Most tea gardens are in the elephant corridors and jumbos enter these while moving from one place to another.