Updated: June 27, 2021 7:55:50 am
A lone tusker has killed 16 people — while covering over 500 km — in the days succeeding its separation from its herd in early May, leaving officials worried in Jharkhand.
Principal Chief Conservator of Forests and Jharkhand’s Chief Wildlife Warden Rajiv Ranjan said, “The elephant either got separated from the herd or the herd rejected it in Tundi area of Dhanbad, after which it travelled all the way through forest area till Sahebganj and back.”
From Tundi in Dhanbad, the pachyderm travelled to Jamtara, Deoghar, Dumka, Pakur and Sahibganj and returned to Tundi through the same route. It killed 16 people, including four in Jamtara, three each in Deoghar, Dumka and Sahibganj, two in Pakur and one in Dhanbad, according to forest officials.
Ranjan said that most of the deaths happened after villagers flocked near the elephant. “We were continuously tracking the elephant and warning the nearby villagers with loudspeakers. However, we were informed that villagers surrounded the elephant when it was sighted leading to the deaths,” he said.
Officials said that they are hoping to reunite the tusker with its herd. “Our plan is to make the elephant go towards its herd as it has reached the same place where it went astray,” Ranjan said.
Pointing to a similar incident three years ago when an elephant killed more than 20 people, Ranjan said, “The forest department was trying to tranquilise the elephant and it could not succeed. The elephant had to be killed. That is why we did not attempt to tranquilise the elephant.”
In Jharkhand, families of those who die in man-animal conflicts get Rs 4 lakh as compensation.
But in Dumka’s Chandrapura village, where 30-year-old Solemaan Soren died on May 13, his brother Shivlal said, “My brother worked in the fields and reached the roadside when an elephant trampled him to death. He did not instigate the elephant…We are still waiting for the post-mortem report to get the compensation. We were just handed over Rs 25, 000.”
Divisional Forest Officer Aviroop Sinha said, “We haven’t received the cheque drawing authority. The process of allotment has begun and it should be done in the next few days.”
In Jharkhand, man-animal conflicts leave 74 people dead and 134 injured each year on an average — over 90 per cent of such incidents involving elephants. Since 2016 till January this year, 301 people and 80 elephants have died.
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