Wild elephants became separated from the rest of their herd and waded across the Damodar River to enter Burdwan on Saturday night. On Sunday morning, when panicked villagers tried to drive them away by throwing stones at them, the pachyderms became aggressive.
The enraged elephants ran through the streets of Burdwan trampling victims, said West Bengal forest minister Benoy Krishna Burman. Four people were attacked and killed, the India Times reported; two were from Bhatar and the other two were from Monteswar. According to a story by Sky News, a male elephant was killed after forestry officials shot him with a tranquilizer dart. The remaining three elephants, a female and two calves, escaped.
Watch | Elephant goes on rampage, throws man in the airhttps://t.co/79K2LwtR6T
— Times of India (@timesofindia) March 21, 2016
The rampage began around 9 a.m. on Sunday, when the elephants were walking through a field in Bhatar. They found two farmers, Annakoli Roy 62, and Narayan Majhi, 69, both residents of Nasigram village. In a horribly graphic episode caught on video, the elephants grabbed the men and flung them to the ground, killing them.
Basu Mudi of Nasigram described the chaos the animals were creating in the village.
“These elephants have been destroying our crop since last night, and now they have killed two of our own.”
The disgruntled elephants then moved on to another town, Monteswar, around 12 miles away. They proceeded to destroy crops and smash structures along the road. They walked into the market at Asanpur, where a 35-year-old resident, Robi Kundu, got in their way. One of the elephants tossed him into the air. He was critically injured and has been admitted to Burdwan hospital.
The enraged elephants ran through the Bhaghasone village next, as people scattered in panic. But two more villagers, Prokash Baora, 38, and Siraj Mollah 36, were attacked, hurled to the ground, and killed.
Last month, another elephant wandered into Siliguri, about 360 miles north of Kolkata. It appeared disoriented as it crashed into buildings, leaving a trail of chaos and panic.
Wild elephant attacks are on the rise due to the shrinking of their habitat, environmentalists say. The World Wildlife Fund reports that up to 300 people are killed by elephants in India every year.
Crop raiding, the site reports, is one main problem in cohabitating with wild elephants in India.
“The pattern of crop raiding and the immediate reasons that induce elephants to raid crops vary. Elephants may prefer feeding on crops when compared to wild forage because of their higher nutritive content and palatability.
“However, latest studies on Asian elephants living in contiguous compact habitats show that not all elephants in a population raid crops. However, in highly fragmented landscapes, the entire population may be involved in elephant-human conflict.”
Resentment towards elephants builds as they become more and more of a nuisance and a threat to the safety of village residents. As a result, elephant mortality spikes. One demonstration of this was the case of more than 60 elephants found dead in Northeast India and Sumatra in 2001. They had been poisoned by plantation workers.
World Wildlife Fund urges India to find resolution to the problem.
“Human-elephant conflict can take their toll both on human lives and property as well as elephant populations. Ways of reducing or resolving such conflicts are vital for the viable conservation of Asian elephants.”
Despite their occasional marauding, the sight of a wild elephant near a village is not an unusual thing. Sadly, whether kept in zoos (like the Inquisitr’s story about Lucky in San Antonio) or in the wild, managing elephants seems to be a problem the world over.
Elephant and Calf, India pic.twitter.com/5X6umGtyN1
— Stunning Wildlife (@SWildlifepics) March 21, 2016
But elephants, like so many other wild animals dealing with urban blight, have learned to adapt. They frequent farms as well as their native habitat, which is becoming more varied as the human population expands.
“These include large contiguous areas surrounded by crop fields, or in highly degraded areas with other agricultural encroachments and they are also found in fragmented landscapes with a mosaic of crop fields, plantations and patches of forest.”
Elephants are also expensive. They cause damage amounting from a few thousand dollars to millions of dollars. Every year, around 50 elephants are killed during crop raiding in India.
[Photo via vicspacewalker/Shutterstock.com]