The forest authorities in Ranchi have given orders of shoot to kill for an elephant, that killed 15 persons in Bihar and Jharkhand since March this year. Currently, the elephant, a young adult aged around 25, has been spotted in Sahibganj district of Jharkhand. A hunter from Hyderabad has already arrived and is camping in the area for the purpose. The elephant had last killed two persons over two days on Monday and Tuesday.
Most of its victims have been members of the Paharia tribal – a primitive tribal group with a thin population of over 25,000 in the state, who live in the densely forested hills of Sahibganj district. According to the officials, the elephant entered Jharkhand from Bihar late in March. In between, it again crossed into Bihar and then returned to Jharkhand. Efforts made to tranquilise the elephants have not yielded results, even as casualties have occurred.
Jharkhand’s Principal Chief Conservator of Forests (Wildlife) L R Singh said: “We have been trying to tranquilise and capture the elephant for nearly a fortnight. But it has not yielded results. On the other hand, casualties have taken place. Therefore, finally, we gave orders to shoot to kill the elephant.”
In order to get the task executed, the forest authorities have called Nawab Shafath Ali Khan of Hyderabad. He has already arrived in Jharkhand and camping with the team in Sahibganj. “He is among the most experienced names and is credited with culling neel gais in Bihar and killing a rogue elephant last year in the same state. He has been with us for the past few days. In fact, he has been trying to tranquilise and capture the elephant. But the terrain is proving to be the main difficulty,” said Singh. The effort would ensure least painful death.
The elephant is roaming in the Raj Mahal Hills in Taljhari, Borio and Sahibganj Blocks. “The visibility becomes less than 15 feet and the forest is so dense that entering it has not been possible. That is why we were forced to finally issue the orders for killing,” said Singh. The last sighting of the elephant was in a dense area in Taljhari Block, he said.
Recalling the elephant’s venture into Jharkhand, Singh said that, on March 24, the elephant entered Jharkhand from Bihar. “It had already killed three in Bihar and began killing people in Jharkhand. Then, in between, for a brief period, it re-entered Bihar and killed one more person. Later, it again returned to Jharkhand and has, so far, killed 11 persons in all,” he said. The last two killings took place on August 7 and 8.
The area in which the elephant has been roaming is populated by the Paharias. “They live in small settlements of six to seven hutments on the top of the hills amid dense forests. The elephant emerges suddenly, charges at the person and then slips out of the view after killing. It has been charging even at the team equipped with torches,” said Singh. He added that the authorities in Bihar have not been able to identify the herd from which the elephant separated.
Divisional Forest Officer (Sahibganj) Manish Tiwari said: “Our teams have been at the job. We have ensured that many villagers have left their settlements on the hill tops and come down to a safe place. The compensation to the victims has also been paid. We are trying to get the job done with minimum inconvenience to the villagers.”