Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Bear strikes again in Sikkim

Gangtok, Nov. 9: A 51-year-old woman was mauled by a Himalayan black bear in North Sikkim yesterday morning.

This is the third time in a month that bears entered human habitation and mauled people. The latest incident has forced the forest department to issue an alert to people venturing near the forests.

According to North Sikkim district officials, Suk Maya Subba of Khamsing village, 80km from here, was mauled by the animal around 8.30am yesterday while she was returning from her neighbour’s house.

Subba, who has suffered injuries on her left shoulder, face and chest, is presently undergoing treatment at the district hospital at Mangan, 70km from the state capital.

The divisional forest officer (territorial) North Sikkim, N. T. Bhutia, said her condition was stable.

Three boys, who had gone to collect food for their cattle near the forest in Khamsing village, also saw the animal. They immediately ran to safety.

Forest officials suspect that the bear is still in a cardamom field near the Rabom Jhora in Mangan.

The wildlife officials have alerted the local residents of the area.

Bhutia said a team of forest officials and police have started a combing operation in the fringe areas around Khamsing village from this morning but the animal had not been traced till late afternoon.

“It could have returned to the forests also. But the combing operation is still on,” said Bhutia.

On November 3, a Himalayan black bear had injured three forest officers on the outskirts of the state capital, while they tried to dart the animal.

Later, the bear was tranquillised and taken to Bulbuley zoo before being released in the wild.

On the same day, a 60-year-old man was mauled by a bear in a forest near Pelling in West Sikkim while he was returning to his home near Tikjuk from Dokathang.

“These repeated attacks in recent times could be because of the rise in the bear population or due to the increase in the forest areas. The animals could also be entering human habitation in search of food,” a forest official said.

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