MIDNAPORE: Presence of mind and prompt reflexes, if used even when one gets the fright of his life, can actually help a one escape death. This was proved in a West Midnapore forest on Sunday night when 40-year-old Manas Koila climbed atop a berry tree to escape the wrath of an elephant herd.
Koila was heading home on his two-wheeler through Pirakata forest in Salboni around 7 p.m. on Sunday after drawing his weekly rations when he suddenly found elephants in front. A scared Koila first tried taking a U-turn and fleeing. But, to his surprise, he found elephants were approaching him from the reverse direction as well. Thinking on his feet, Koila left his bike only to run and climb to the top of the nearest tree in the dark. “At first I was dead scared and didn’t know what to do. There were elephants in front of me and when I reversed my bike, I was surprised to see another lot of elephants behind me too. I knew I couldn’t ride the bike any more as there were elephants all around. Being a 20-odd feet high berry tree, I felt rather safely perched on top. Branches of the tree were at a height the elephants couldn’t reach even if they tried swinging their trunks up,” Koila said on Monday.
Further recalling his experience, Koila said he flashed the light from his mobile phone and saw the 55-60 strong herd of Dalma elephants roaming below. “I called my relatives who, in turn, called the forest department to seek help for my rescue,” said Koila. He further alleged, “The forest department delayed in sending a rescue team. A few hours later, I flashed my mobile light around and saw the elephants had moved away. I then felt safe enough to climb down.” Forest officials said their team reached the spot around 11 p.m. and returned on not finding anyone atop a tree.