MIDNAPORE: Two herds of Dalma elephants turned back and chased forest department staffers trying to push them towards Odisha from Midnapore on Thursday night.
The forest department plans to undertake another overnight drive. Officials are avoiding use of excessive force as it may cause the herd to stray into human habitats and result in loss of life.
Forest department employees in Sukhnakhali forest were driving two Dalma herds together, comprising some 90 elephants, along with a local Mayurjharna herd of eight. Several of the elephants suddenly turned back and started chasing the forest staffers instead. Officials, as well as the locals helping them, left their sticks and torches and ran for cover. Finding that they were no longer being chased, the elephants stopped, letting the forest employees and villagers run to safety beyond the forest limits.
The Dalma herds that entered the state earlier have not been moving towards Odisha as they normally do at this time of the year. While a herd of 30 elephants have stayed put at West Midnapore’s Chandra, another herd of about 60 has moved into the Midnapore forest division from Bankura three days ago.