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Nepal targets jumbos again

Posted by Ramesh Khati on July 7, 2009

Siliguri, July 6: Two tuskers were hurt when Nepal police allegedly opened fire on an approaching herd of 100-odd elephants on the border last night.

The elephants had crossed the Mechi and were about to enter the Nepal village of Bamandangi when the firing took place. They had strayed out of the Mahananda Wildlife Sanctuary and passed Kalabari forest before reaching the river that divides India and Nepal.

On the Indian side of the river is Naxalbari and Bamandangi is around 35km from Siliguri.

“As the elephants trudged through the river and were about to enter Nepal, we heard gunshots from the other side,” a forester, who had been engaged in preventing the herd from entering Nepal, said on condition of anonymity. “Around 50 rounds of bullets were fired, prompting the herd to retreat hastily to Kalabari.”

The guard said two male elephants were suspected to have suffered bullet injuries. “One of them was found limping back to the forest, while the other lay on the riverbed for some hours and returned,” he said.

“The entire herd appeared frightened and walked back to Lohagarh, around 10km from the border.” He added that villagers also had heard the gunshots.

However, the forest department was not ready to confirm that such an incident had taken place.“We have heard that Nepal police had targeted an elephant herd moving from India. But are yet to verify the report,” said S.B. Patel, the chief conservator of forests (wildlife), north Bengal.

“Our men have been pressed into service to find out if any elephant was injured. They are also trying to steer the herd back to Mahananda. Unless we find at least one elephant with bullet injury, nothing can be said of the incident,” said the officer.

On the night of June 9 also, the police in the neighbouring country had fired shots at an elephant herd. However, no animal was injured.

Representatives of wildlife NGOs in Siliguri said they were yet to draw any conclusion, but would protest if such an incident had happened.

“If it is true, it is not proper on the part of Nepal police to open fire to scare away elephants,” said Animesh Bose, the founder co-ordinator of Siliguri-based Himalayan Nature and Adventure Foundation.

Source:The Telegraph


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