Special Correspondent

Incident occurred in Debiganj district

West Bengal to raise issue with Nepal

KOLKATA: The death of a female elephant in Tuesday’s firing on a herd, which crossed into Nepal from West Bengal, has raised concerns over the safety of animals migrating across international borders in the region. Five other elephants were injured.

The West Bengal Government intends taking up the matter with Nepalese authorities, Forest Minister Ananta Ray told The Hindu here on Wednesday.

Whether the Nepal police opened fire was yet to be officially confirmed, he said.

The incident occurred about three km from the border in the Nepalese district of Debiganj, said Sumita Ghatak, Divisional Forest Officer, (Wildlife 1), Darjeeling.

The injured elephants returned to the Indian side and wildlife authorities are trying to track them down for providing treatment, said West Bengal Chief Conservator of Forests (Wildlife) Ujjal Bhattacharjee.

In search of maize

The elephants which were shot belonged to a herd, which normally moves into Nepal after crossing the Mechi river at this time of the year in search of maize. They return to the forests of north Bengal as there is not much forest cover on the other side of the border.

In the past there were reports of gunshots in attempts to drive elephants back into this side of the border.

Some returned with injuries, Mr. Bhattacharjee said.

The wildlife authorities would take up the matter with their Nepalese counterparts at the next inter-district border meeting.

Wildlife migration

Raman Sukumar, Professor, Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore, and expert on elephants, said he would take up the issue of protection of wildlife migrating across international borders with the Ministry of Environment and Forests and the World Conservation Union/International Union for the Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources once he got details of Tuesday’s incident.