Kolkata: The West Bengal government has launched a campaign in areas adjoining elephant habitats in the northern parts of the state to prevent electrocution deaths of the pachyderms, a top forest official said on Sunday. The campaign was launched on Saturday in the villages and tea gardens of Alipurduar, Jalpaiguri and Darjeeling districts where recent deaths of elephants due to electrocution have been reported, state Chief Wildlife Warden V K Yadav said.
It will, however, be officially flagged off by Forest Minister Rajib Banerjee on a later date, he said. "Forest personnel are asking locals through public address systems to report illegal hooking and fencing of fields and tea gardens with live wires.
"We are making people aware of the need to protect our wildlife and report criminal activities," Yadav told PTI. Priority has been given to areas adjoining Buxa Tiger Reserve and Jaldapara and Gorumara national parks, he said. "We have also launched the campaign in villages and tea gardens in Bagdogra and Naxalbari areas of Darjeeling district," Yadav said. The issue of electrocution deaths of the elephants was discussed with the additional chief secretary of the Power Department and he has given instructions to his officials to take strict action against offenders, he said.
The forest minister, during his recent visit to Siliguri, had held a meeting with Power Department officials, forest officers and representatives of tea gardens on the issue, Yadav said. Eleven elephants have died in north Bengal so far this year, of which six due to electrocution, he said.
"We need to sensitise people on the need to protect elephants," he said. Banerjee had on Saturday flagged off from the Forest Department's headquarters in the metropolis three tableaux which will move around Kolkata, Howrah, North and South 24 Parganas districts during the Durga Puja days to spread the message of wildlife conservation, Yadav said. The MUVs will display colourful images of wild animals and slogans on their conservation, he added. —PTI