The Fight Between Humans And Elephants Is Taking A Nasty Turn With A Shocking Number Of Deaths (India)


Susmita Mukherjee, India Times

Date Published


See link for photos.

In a dangerous development, India has seen a total loss of nearly 400 human lives and more than

100 elephant lives in 2013 to one cause – an ugly face-off between man and animal. If anything that number is going up this year.

The death of a tusker after being hit by a train in Palakkad district of Kerala on Monday followed by a pregnant elephant being electrocuted last night mark every day reports of elephants dying of man-made causes. In the same breath, elephant attacks seem to become more rampant than before. This week, a man was trampled to death by an elephant in Erode District of Coimbatore in Tamil Nadu.

The fight between man and elephant has become an increasingly ugly one.

Dr Dipankar Ghose, Director of Species at WWF-India, has a simple explanation for the violent pattern among elephants. “Elephants are mammals, like humans. If they are subjected to any form of aggression, they get stressed like humans and react,” he told Indiatimes. “The best thing to do when you spot a wild elephant is to stop and stay quiet, let the animal pass in peace. Most people forget that while driving through an elephant corridor is that we are encroaching on their privacy.”

“One of the biggest challenges is that elephant territory is usually along the buffer zones of the wildlife reserves. Elephants need to move constantly between fresh feeding grounds and water source,” he added. “With rapid encroachment of buffer zones, we are increasing the instances of irking the elephants. We need to understand that elephants are not predators. They will not kill humans unless they feel threatened or in response to aggression.”

“Next time when you come across a wild elephant, do not honk, do not flash your headlights, just stop and let them move away.”

Encroachment is one of the biggest threats to elephant habitats. A petition has been filed in the Coimbatore district administration, where a group of advocates have asked to implement the hill area development programme rules and the Forest Protection Act, 1927.

“The main reasons elephants come to agricultural land and rural areas for water and food is because their original water sources have been closed down,” said KK Karunanidhi, one of the petitioners. “There should be a clear demarcation across the ghats and plains of the elephant corridor borders in the forms of signage so that even public can detect an encroachment,” R Senthilkumar, another petitioner, said.

“Elephants are worshipped in India as Ganesha and yet, we do not understand their need for space,” Dr Ghose says.

“We are currently in talks with the government to help create safer elephant corridors. As for people, I advise that in a situation of dealing with an elephant contact the forest official first. If you do not get through to them,, then contact the local police. In any case, it is not a good idea to try and tame a wild elephant alone.”