High drama in West Bengal

A herd of over 20 elephants strayed dangerously close to the railway track and the highway near the Moraghat forest area in West Bengal's Jalpaiguri district on Sunday morning.

The area between the Reti and Moraghat forests is an elephant corridor and the herd was trapped between the track and the national highway.

The elephants remained stranded there for the day but were driven back to the forest in the evening, Kalyan Das, Divisional Forest Officer, told The Hindu over telephone.

Railway authorities alerted

Forest Department officials immediately alerted the Railway authorities about the herd and trains passing through the stretch were asked to slow down.

The officials also asked for help from the district police as large crowds gathered to watch the elephants, Mr. Das said.

Crowd hurls stones

“There was a huge crowd of onlookers as it was the day of the weekly market and workers from several tea gardens were in the area. Some people were pelting stones as well and we were apprehensive that the herd could turn violent.”

While elephants are often victims of speeding trains that run through the forest areas of north Bengal, the region is also witness to several deaths caused by elephant attacks.

Damage to life, property

The pachyderms often stray from the forests into the tea gardens and villages causing damage to both life and property.