A ‘rogue’ elephant, which had killed 15 people in Bihar and Jharkhand in the last six months, was shot down by forest authorities in Jharkhand’s Sahibganj district on Friday. A team led by well-known hunter Nawab Shafath Ali Khan from Hyderabad, along with veterinarians, had been camping in the higher reaches of Raj Mahal hills of Sahibganj for the purpose. Principal Chief Conservator of Forests (PCCF), Wildlife, L R Singh, said: “The team managed to track down the elephant around 6 pm near Banjhi Santhali village in Taljhari Block of Sahibganj district. Two bullets were shot.”
According to officials, the elephant was shot in the head and after it fell, another round was fired as a confirmation shot. The post-mortem was conducted last night. The burial was done Saturday due to heavy overnight rain, he added. Singh insisted it was an unfortunate act but that it was the only resort.
“We tried to tranquilise it. But to do that, you have to come very close to it. One of our veterinary doctors nearly got killed three days ago. Due to dense forest, it was also not possible to use an aerial route. Still, we tried to tranquilise it more than a couple of times. Permission to kill was unfortunate, but last resort,” he said.
Another option was to dig trenches and trap it. But that too could not be done because it was a hilly terrain and not a plain area. “When the elephant is moving in an area of around 100 square km, digging trenches was not feasible,” he said, adding that entering the forest for a person was not possible.
The official further added the casualties could have continued to increase had several people from villages atop the densely forested hills not come down to lower areas. Singh further added that, after the elephant killed three people, the Bihar counterparts of the forest department had almost declared it ‘rogue.’ “But then it came over to Jharkhand and we had been trying to capture it,” he said.
The elephant is reported to have crossed over to Jharkhand on March 24. It killed another person in Bihar when it crossed back for a few days and then again returned to Jharkhand. In all, 11 people were killed in Jharkhand, mostly belonging to the endangered primitive tribal group- the Paharias. Almost all the victims in Jharkhand were Paharias.