Now, get SMS alerts on elephant presence in West Bengal forests (Kolkata, India)


Koushik Dutta, Hindustan Times

Date Published

Forest officials in West Bengal’s Bankura district have started
issuing SMS alerts about the movement of elephants to prevent
man-animal conflicts that have resulted in several deaths.

A person can get the information by making a ‘missed call’ to a
designated number (9015181881).

The move came after chief minister Mamata Banerjee pulled up forest
officials for the number of deaths caused by the elephant attacks in
Bankura-West Midnapore belt.

Last year as many as 29 persons were killed in Bankura district. This
year, too, five have lost their lives in elephant attacks.

Pinaki Mitra, divisional forest officer of Bankura (North) Division,
said the alerts will inform people on how many elephants are present
in a certain area. “We have spread the information about this number.”

The elephants are tracked by the forest department’s ground staff, who
are given beats under divisions. In West Midnapore there are four
divisions and in Bankura, three. The beat staff inform the division
office about the number of elephants roaming in their area.

Currently, there are no migratory elephants in Bankura and West
Midnapore which come from the Dolma hills of Jharkhand. However, in
West Midnapore district, there are 40 ‘resident’ elephants. In
Bankura, the number of similar elephants is 25.

Forest officials explained these ‘resident’ elephants don’t move in
herds unlike the stray ones. Therefore, they pose relatively less

In neighbouring West Midnapore district, officials, however, follow a
different strategy: send bulk SMS alerts to administrative, panchayat
officials, other prominent people of the area as well as the members
of Forest Protection Committee (FPC), who are supposed to spread the
information to the locals and other travellers.

Migratory elephants from Dolma started coming to Bengal from the late
eighties in search of food. But only about 40-50 elephants used to
come and stay for about three-four months. But now about 150 elephants
come regularly and they stay for about eight months. With abundance of
natural food in Bankura and West Midnapore, some migratory elephants
also stay back and become ‘residents’.

Apart from killing people, the elephants that stray into Bengal from
the Dolma hills routinely destroy property and damage crops.