Statesman News Service
Midnapore, 5 January
A young tusker, separated from its herd, wreaked havoc in Keshiary, West Midnapore, yesterday night, damaging as many as nine houses and destroying standing crops. Though no one was injured in the elephant attack, two cows and three goats died.
The panicky villagers informed the forest personnel, but by the time the team arrived, the tusker had retreated to the forest. By noon, it was seen in the vicinity of the Kanpur village in Keshiary and it destroyed vegetable crops today.  Forest officials deployed trackers to monitor the movement of the tusker and advised the farmers not to enter their fields at night and not to tease the animal.
A forest official said: “Crowd control has become a major problem. Villagers try to chase away tuskers with crackers and stones  hoping to prevent them from entering their villages. Often this only results in angering the animal. We keep telling people the elephant can get violent. It is always safer to watch the animal in silence from a safe distance without disturbing it.”
The villages situated in Keshiary block are often menaced by the tuskers, which are usually found coming from Dalma range every year.
“Compared to the past few years, the loss of life and property has seen a considerable decrease. We are trying to create awareness among the villagers about not disturbing the elephants, as it could land them in a precarious situation,” said the forest officer.
For the past few days, a herd of about 100 elephants, including about 10 calves, had come from Dalma range in Jharkhand and settled in the Salboni forests.
The animals had already damaged 25 houses, destroyed standing crops on over 50 acres of land and killed two buffaloes and seven goats.
Meanwhile, days before the visit of Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee at Amlasole in Jhargram, the state forest minister Benoy Krishna Burman yesterday went around the tree plantation hubs of Jhargram.
He visited Manikpara, Lodhasuli, having 800 species of plants, and the Badurkhola Eco-tourism centre.
“Hailing from north Bengal, I can share the feelings of those having made the tree plantation drive successful,” the minister said.
In sync with the government&’s policy to save the greens and help those sustaining on forest land, Mr Banerjee interacted with the members of several forest protection committees.