Herd of wild elephants trample paddy fields, villagers in panic (India)


The Avenue Mail

Date Published
Jamshedpur: The hope of villagers for harvesting good crops this year were dashed as a herd of wild elephants trampled through the paddy field in the foothills of Dalma along the NH-33.
The herd of tuskers had descended from the Dalma wildlife sanctuary at the adjoining Bhilaipahadi, Suklara and Barabanki panchayat and returned having destroyed paddy plants grown on over 15 acres of land.
Rampaging herds of tuskers in the villages are forcing innocent tribal to spend sleepless nights. In an area that boasts of a forest cover of 30 percent, the human-animal conflict is major concern of the people. In past one week cases of elephant’s regularly damaging standing crops have shot up.
“I am in state of shock I had planted paddy on a patch of four acres of land this monsoon, and was expecting to harvest a good crop sometime around October-November, but a herd of elephants spoilled everything. The herd has not only stomached the young plants, but also trampled the entire field,” said Kisku Soren, a resident of Bhilaipahadi panchayat.
Mahto said that last year drought had brought misery across the region, causing most of the villagers under Bhilaipahadi to get squarely indebted. “I had figured out that this time there was all chances of harvesting a good crop so that I may be able to pay back the loans. But my condition seems to have returned to the square one,” said the villager.
There are about three more villagers who have fallen victim to the wild elephants who love to eat the young paddy field. After the trampling of the crops, the people of adjoining villagers are apprehensive of similar phenomena at the paddy field in their villages and are mobilised supports to take preventive measures before it is too late.
A forest office said the wild elephants destroyed the paddy crops which was ready for the harvesting. He said a herd of tuskers has strayed into a village.
He pointed out that he was going to take corrective measures immediately so that the elephants may not destroy any more of the paddy crops by straying into the human habitats in the foothills of Dalma.
“As we cannot stop the elephants from migrating from one jungle to another, but can safeguard the villages from the tuskers’ attack on the villages as well as the paddy fields, we have set up separate teams for tuskers- driving wherever the chances of the menace is maximum,” said another forest official.
People are in state of havoc due to such menace. Sometimes villagers migrate to safer places for a week or more to avoid the sudden night-time attacks of the wild elephant herds.
“We are forced to spend sleepless nights. Our lives are at risk due to rampaging elephants. Elephants regularly venture into villages, destroy houses, damage standing crops and even trample people to death. We are forced to work like a ‘night guard’ to save our lives and crops” said Langu Munda a villager.
He said that rampaging elephants are a cause of concern. Some measures have been adopted and there is need to do more to protect the people.
The farmers have been asked to inform the nearest range office in case of crop raiding so that special teams will be deputed to drive the elephants into the deep jungle.