Putting up with occasional elephant depredations for months on end, the villagers of Nonaipara along the Indo-Bhutan border in Udalguri district obviously love to hate the slatey grey giants.
But aversion for the lumbering six-tonners turned into affection with the advent of ‘Nandini’, a calf born on July 20 at 8 am to an expectant female accompanying a 60-strong wild herd. The tuskers had been foraging for fodder in Section 28 of Nonaipara Tea Estate. Christened Nandini by the local people, the calf was born hardly a km away from human habitation.
Such was the ecstasy among the locals that they celebrated the event and even distributed sweets among themselves in the firm belief that it would herald good fortune. Infatuated by the antics of the wobbly little jumbo, members of a local NGO named Green Valley Forest and Wildlife Protection Society, mostly comprising of tea garden labourers, took turns to protect the nursing mother and her calf, Chief Executive Officer Ananta Bagh of the Green Valley forest and wildlife Protection Society informed this scribe.
Following arrival of the newborn, the herd swiftly moved to Section 4 of the tea estate, popularly known as Guatemala, revealed Golap Behra, secretary of the NGO which is mandated to conserve the ecology. Prior to the new addition, the herd had been frequenting Orangajuli, Nonaipara and Bamunjuli areas since the last one month.
On the flip side, Arjun Tanti (30), an inhabitant of Section 17 of Nonaipara TE escaped death by a whisker after being seriously injured by a wild elephant while he was bathing in a stream at around 6 pm on July 21. The incident created a furore as the locals took the Government to task for its inability to check the frequent trail of death and destruction by the marauding pachyderms, especially in northern Udalguri. The Chief Minister and Forest Minister too were sounded and warned of drastic consequences by the aggrieved people.
In the backdrop of these developments, WWF officials have visited Tangla and put their heads together with representatives of Green Valley Forest and Wildlife Protection Society, besides members of other organisations. As an outcome, they have resolved to arrange an awareness camp at Bamunjuli on August 5.