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Principal Chief Conservator of Forests in West Bengal, Azam Zaidi Wednesday submitted to the Central government a report into the brutal killing of a young elephant by Bangladesh Border Guards (BBG) Monday afternoon after the young tusker strayed into the neighbouring country.
In its report to the Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change (MoEFCC), the West Bengal wildlife wing has detailed the entire sequence of events – from the time the elephant entered the state from Jharkhand’s Dalma range to when it finally reached Bangladesh’s Rajshahi district where BBG personnel pumped 34 bullets into it, killing the animal instantly.
The report says the elephant’s entire journey was being tracked by the wildlife officials, and later by the Border Security Force, but none could stop or divert it from crossing the border.
With the report filed, Zaidi said it is now up to the Union ministry if it wants to take up the matter with Bangladesh government and find a mechanism to deal with such cases in future.
“It is also up to the Environment ministry if it wants to involve External Affairs ministry into it,” Zaidi added.
Amid protests over the killing, which BBG has defended saying the elephant was about to enter a village where it could have posed risk to human lives, a range-level officer of the Forest Department said on the condition of anonymity that faster mobilisation of ‘hula’ parties (elephant driving squads) could have prevented the animal from crossing over to Bangladesh. The official added that several posts in the Forest Department are still lying vacant, which often result in slower initial response, citing the latest case where the elephant’s movement towards Dhulian in Murshidabad, a very unusual route, could have been dealt with if it was detected early on.
Dr Saswati Sen, State Director, WWF-India West Bengal State Office said the lone tusker could have been saved if the Bangladesh Border Guards had shown “a little patience”. “They could have taken help from the Wildlife technical team. It was not very difficult to drive the tusker back,” she added.
According to Dr Sen, the WWF-India has been working in collaboration with the West Bengal Forest department and the Wildlife wing towards setting up anti-depredation squads in North Bengal districts and in Nepal. Two such squads are active in North Bengal, comprising 20 members each while another team was set up in Nepal and was being trained in dealing with elephant migration.
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