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Aila doesn’t spare Sunderbans wildlife

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Uprooted by Aila: This family at Sundarbans in South 24 Parganas district was compelled to move its belongings in a boat after the cyclone devastation in West Bengal. Thousands of families have become homeless, living in makeshift centres or relief camps.
Uprooted by Aila: This family at Sundarbans in South 24 Parganas district was compelled to move its belongings in a boat after the cyclone devastation in West Bengal. Thousands of families have become homeless, living in makeshift centres or relief camps.

Ananya Dutta

Staff rescue a tigress and several deer; 20 crocodiles missing from Bhagwatpur breeding centre

KOLKATA: Monday’s cyclonic storm Aila, which caused large-scale devastation in southern Bengal and took a heavy toll of human life, has also precipitated chaos for the wildlife in the Sunderbans Forest Reserve.

The staff there have had to rescue a tigress and several deer, while the entire parent stock of 20 crocodiles from the Bhagwatpur Breeding Centre is reported missing. One deer has been found dead, but officials have not yet been able to assess the entire extent of damage.

A number of the animals became completely disoriented following the storm, said Forest Reserve Director N.C. Bahuguna. On Tuesday, the staff found a tigress which had strayed into a village near Sajnakhali and taken shelter in a hut. The animal was tranquillised and it would be released after examination by a veterinary surgeon, he said.

Waterlogging a problem

“All forest locations are waterlogged, which is a hindrance to rescue operations,” said Mr. Bahuguna. The staff had to wait till noon for water to recede before they could rescue the tigress.

Radio breakdown

“A breakdown in our communication systems has also impeded their work. Our radio transmission systems are not working as the batteries have gone dead,” he said.

Officials and staff of the Forest Department were also involved in efforts to evacuate and provide relief to employees and villagers living in the areas on the fringe of the forests. “We have successfully evacuated the entire staff and are providing relief material to the villages bordering the forests,” he said.


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