Bear gatecrashes Tiger Hill temple in search of food
Times of India | 25 November 2021
DARJEELING: A Himalayan black bear was found loitering inside Sinchel Devi Mandir at Tiger Hill on Tuesday night.
A CCTV grab showed that the animal was roaming around on the premises of the temple and climbing up the idols in search for food. The incident occurred around 11pm when the priests and devotees were not present on the temple campus.
The wildlife division was called in to send the bear back to a nearby forest. “The Sinchel temple is located inside the wildlife sanctuary and the sighting of bears and other wild animals is common. We are keeping tabs on the movement of the animal to ensure that none gets injured by it,” said Suratna Sherpa, a wildlife divisional forest officer.
Earlier, in October, a black bear had been spotted in the Mul Dara area while another was trapped from Lebong and later released in the forest. In November, a Himalayan black bear and her cub were spotted loitering on the Darjeeling Gymkhana premises.
The wildlife division officer said that easy availability of food draws black bear to the urban areas frequently. “Tourism activities and unhygienic disposal of food are some of the reasons why this area is being frequented by the animal. The temple in Tiger Hill is a popular tourist spot,” Sherpa added.
“From November, black bears go into hibernation. They mate before that. They often come down from their dwelling areas located at great heights,” Sherpa said. The Himalayan black bears are found above 8,000 feet and come down to 4,500-5,000 feet before they hibernate. Darjeeling is located at around 6,700 feet. Sherpa, however, expressed fear of a possible man-animal conflict with growing black bear population. “In 2012 census, we had around 7 to 15 bears. Now, we feel population of the animal has gone up. In the coming years, we might see a possible conflict. People need to be aware,” said the DFO.