Elephants attack Sonbhadra village, kill animals, destroys houses and harvest (India, Uttar Pradesh)


Binay Singh, Times of India

Date Published

VARANASI: The natives of Randah village in Sonbhadra district are living in constant fear after a hoard of wild elephants from neigbouring Chattisgarh played havoc killing their animals and destroying their houses and harvests since Monday night. The villagers as well as local police and forest personnel had sleepless nights to ward off the unwanted disaster. Presently, the locations of wild beasts was found in the bordering area of Chattishgarh. 

Crossing the UP-Chhattisgarh border the elephants entered Randah village in Babhani police station area of Sonbhadra district around 8pm on Monday night. According to locals, furious elephants around 20 in number started destroying the houses and paddy harvest. They also trampled eight animals including cows and oxen. The scared villagers saved their lives by fleeing from the scene, and spent whole night away from the village at a safe distance. 
The police and forest officials reached the village after getting information and tried to make the elephants leave the area. “To fend off the elephants from the village we torched mashals, burst crackers and beat drums whole night on Tuesday,” the station officer of Babhani police station Ashok Singh Yadav told TOI over phone on Wednesday. “Their location on Wednesday was found near Tarkeshwarpur in Sonawal area in Chhatishgarh, about 38kn from here,” said the SO adding that about 1000 villagers along with forest and police personnel toiled whole night to fend off the elephants. 
According to him, about 20 elephants (14 big elephants and 6 kids) attacked the village in which four animals were killed while four others were injured. Two cows and two oxen owned by a villager Ramlal were killed by the furious elephants. They also destroyed eight houses. “During day time these elephants spent time in nearby jungle, and they headed to the village in the darkness of night in search of food,” he said and added that the elephants also injured a women in Gobra village in Chhattishgarh situated on the opposite bank of Pagan river. He said that forest personnel of Chattishgarh wildlife division were also informed about the incident, and asked to take necessary measures to avert such situation.
The SDM of Dudhi Dr. Vishram, who was also there to supervise the fending off operation, said that although intrusion of elephants from Chattishgarh was a regular feature, but this time they came in bigger number. “Generally 4-6 elephants from Chhattishgarh used to enter the bordering Sonbhadra villages, but this time their number was bigger,” the SDM told TOI adding that last year the elephants invaded Sundari village of the area. “Now situation is normal, and all precautionary measures will be taken to save people’s lives and property,” he said. 
It was not the first such case of straying wild animal in human population. In 2009, a leopard that strayed in human habitat and injured many persons was lynched by an angry mob of villagers in Rasara area of Ballia district. Earlier in the same year a tiger had played hide and seek in the areas of Ghazipur and Chandauli district for over 20 days, putting the forest officials as well as locals on their heels. The tiger would have perhaps sneaked into the region through the hills and forests of Kaimur (Bihar) along the Karmnasa river. A man was also found killed in a field. Despite their repeated efforts, the forest personnel had failed to trap the big cat. 
“The man-animal conflict is not a new thing, rather it has been continuing since beginning”, said noted environmentalist at Banaras Hindu University Prof. BD Tripathi. The two theories -struggle for existence, and survival of the fittest are the basis of man-animal conflict, he said adding that the conflict is quite obvious if man destroys animal habitats. The diminishing forest cover due to human greed compels the wild animals to go to human settlements in search of food and water, and it leads to conflict, he added.