Dooars (WB), Oct 15 : A group of elephants wrought havoc in Dooars region of Jalpaiguri district in West Bengal damaging tea gardens and destroying standing crops.
Around 40 elephants have trooped into the Washabarie tea gardens causing mayhem in the area.
Animal lovers say that because of man-animal conflict, the tuskers are forced to come out of the forests from time-to-time in search of food as their natural habitat is dwindling due to human encroachments.
According to the residents, the elephants, which have been coming out from the nearby forests, first appeared near the residential quarters of the tea garden workers and were driven away by the locals towards a nearby river.
But, they reappeared and caused damage to the paddy fields.
"Around 40 elephants entered in this division. Earlier, they were near the worker quarter. Now, the villagers have shooed them away to the nearby river," said Balbir Singh Yash, a resident.
The residents and workers fear to venture out into the tea gardens as they apprehend being attacked by the elephants.
India has been struggling to tackle the problem of shrinking wildlife habitat due to encroachment by humans.
The man-animal conflict often ends with villagers killing elephants and wildlife experts say it is imperative to wean the people away from wildlife habitats by providing them alternative means of livelihood.
A recent survey by the Central Environment Ministry reported a steady depletion of forestland in eleven major wildlife reserves since 1997.
According to the survey, only 20 per cent of the country's land mass is forested and just 120,000 square kilometers constituting less than four percent of the country is suitable for elephants.