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5 Jun 2018

Jumbo herd 'blocks' highway Field day for shutterbugs

The elephant herd on NH31 near Gorumara National Park on Monday. Picture by Biplab Basak
TT, Jun 05, 2018, Jalpaiguri: Traffic along the Chalsa-Lataguri stretch of NH31 came to a screeching halt on Monday morning as a herd of around 10 elephants, including calves, walked along the road from the Gorumara National Park.

Vehicles could not move for around one-and-a-half hours as the herd went on roaming on the highway, with the calves busy in playing with dust and the foliage.

Local people said the herd had come out of Gorumara around 5.30am. "This stretch of the highway is a known crossing zone of elephants and other wild animals. Usually, elephant herds do not halt on the highway but simply cross it in ones and twos. But on Monday morning, it was a different situation altogether as the herd stopped on the highway," said Dibyendu Deb, the president of the Lataguri Resort Owners' Welfare Association.

While vehicles stopped on both sides of the highway, many tourists who had come out of their hotels and resorts to visit the forest in SUVs - the first jungle safari is conducted in Gorumara at 5.30am - were elated to see the elephants on the road, particularly the calves.

"It was a road blockade, but by elephants," said Debajit Dutta, a resident of Sodepur in North 24-Paraganas. "We were in deep sleep when the staff at the resort informed us about the elephants. We took no time and rushed to the highway."

Several shutterbugs were seen busy with cameras, most of them being tourists. Also, several cellphones were in action as people went on clicking photos and videos from different angles.

Sudip Saha, another tourist from Birati - also in South 24-Paraganas - who is on a tour to the Dooars, was delighted to see the wild herd.

"It is like a bonus for us. We had hopes to see elephants, gaurs and other animals as we had come out for the jungle safari but seeing so many elephants together is a different experience," said Saha.

The herd remained on the highway till 7am. Along with Lataguri, tourists staying in other locations like Dhupjhora, Chalsa and other adjoining areas also gathered on both sides of the road.

"There is a huge rush of tourists in the Dooars these days. It was indeed a good experience for them in the morning," said Deb.

Python caught

A 12-ft python was caught by people on Baradighi tea estate located in the Matialli block of Jalpaiguri district and close to the Lataguri forest on Monday. Sources said workers were busy in the plantations when they noticed the snake. Some of them tied a noose and caught the snake. They informed the foresters in the nearby beat office in Baradighi. The foresters reached the garden and released the python in the forest.

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