After wandering in no man's land, It returned to India

A truant elephant, found pacing in the no man's land along the India-Bangladesh border in the dead of night, created an alarm near Balurghat in Dakshin Dinajpur district of West Bengal in the wee hours of Monday.

News that a male sub-adult elephant had wandered into the no man's land came in at 1:45 a.m., but foresters waited till morning to raise the alarm. The Border Security Force (BSF) authorities were informed and a flag meeting was held, Apurba Sen, Divisional Forest Officer (DFO) of Raiganj, told The Hindu over telephone.

“We were relieved when the elephant returned to Indian territory on his own. However, the area is densely inhabited and currently we are concerned that there should not be any untoward incident,” said Sheelwant Patel, Chief Conservator of Forests (North Bengal).

Three Kumki elephants (trained elephants of the Forest Department) have been rushed to the spot, he added.

Had the elephant not returned, the situation would have become complicated as three different agencies — the Forest Department, the BSF and the Bangladesh Rifles (BDR) — would have become involved. Also, communication devices may not work in no man's land and there would have been restrictions on carrying weapons there, Dr. Patel said.

The elephant romped in the area along the border until about 12 noon before returning to India. It is likely that he will be tranquillised on Tuesday before being relocated to a forest area, Mr. Sen said.

Foresters suspect that the elephant had come in from forests in neighbouring Bihar or Jharkhand as “there is no dense forest in Dakshin Dinajpur district, only patches of forest land.”

The migration of elephants from Bihar or Jharkhand is not an infrequent occurrence. Eight months ago, a similar incident had occurred and Kumki elephants from Kukhna in Darjeeling district had to be brought to escort the lost elephant back into the forests, Dr. Patel said.