BIRESWAR BANERJEE, TT, Siliguri, March 16: The forest department will post two dedicated forces with trained staff and necessary equipment at two places in north Bengal to mitigate man-animal conflicts.
The Rapid Response Forces will be stationed at Nilpara in Alipurduar and Sukna in Darjeeling district. In south Bengal also, three such teams will be posted at Kharagpur, Bishnupur and Calcutta.
Sources in the department today said a notification on the formation of the forces had been issued on February 7.
Each of the force will be headed by a range officer and other members are deputy range officer, forest guard, veterinary doctor, vet assistant, lower division clerk, driver, mahout and patawala (person who feeds pet elephants).
In total, 55 people will be recruited to different posts in the five teams.
"The sole objective of forming the force is to mitigate man-animal conflicts. The units will work in co-ordination with the existing wildlife squads. Thousands of people live in the fringes of elephant corridors in north Bengal. Straying of wild animals, including elephants and leopards, is quite common. Most of the time, we have to deal with such problems with our regular force. But once we get a dedicated force, the mitigation of man-animal conflict can be done more promptly," N.S. Murali, the chief conservator of forest, wildlife (north), said today.
Sources in the department said 12 wildlife squads were presently functioning in north Bengal.
According to Murali, the new force will be well-equipped with separate vehicles that will have a generator set, big search light, refrigerators, crackers and dart guns which can be used to tranquillise any wild animal.
"Considering the rise in the incidents of man-elephant conflict across the state, particularly in north Bengal and in some districts of south Bengal, we often find people feeling agitated after an attack or depredation by wild animals. Wildlife squads, on many occasions, had to attend multiple calls made by people from affected areas. The new units, along with additional manpower and independent vehicle, can help us intervene earlier and reduce the risk of loss of life or property," said a forester.
The forces at Sukna and Nilpara will be controlled by the conservator of forests, wildlife (north) circle.