A woman was trampled to death while two men were critically injured when a herd of marauding wild elephants entered the Parsinepur village located in the buffer zone area of the Bardiya National Park early Wednesday morning.
Three wild elephants believed to have entered the market area from the bordering Indian side at around 6am left the villagers terrorised, according to Ramesh Thapa, chief conservation officer at the BNP.
“It was a foggy morning with poor visibility. Some villagers who saw the elephants coming started panicking and made frantic moves to drive them away. The disturbance caused the tuskers to go on a rampage, killing and injuring people, livestock and destroying houses,” said Thapa.
Bimala Pariyar, 31, was killed in the attack while ninth-grader Dinesh Singh Thakuri and Ram Prasad Lamichhane, 57, were critically injured. Around seven houses were destroyed and three domestic animals killed while eight people sustained minor injuries in a stampede caused by the terror that lasted almost three hours.
Fearing more attacks, educational institutions, market places, and government and non-government offices were closed on Wednesday. Locals did not leave their homes.
“Soldiers were mobilised immediately who fired a dozen shots to drive the beasts. Two of the three elephants went to the Kattarnia Wildlife Reserve in India through Khairichandpur on the Nepal side,” said Ashok Bhandari, assistant conservation officer at the BNP. According to the park authorities, security personnel will patrol the area at night.
Wednesday’s death brings total human casualties from elephant attack to five in the past nine months. A total of 36 people have lost their lives in encounters with elephants in the past 17 years.
Human-elephant conflict is growing more serious in recent times, says Thapa. “Though there is no scientific research, it seems the number of both domestic and wild elephants and those migrating from India have increased around Bardiya in recent years with better habitat management,” he said. BNP authorities say there are around 40-50 wild elephants inside the protected area while the migratory wild elephant population is estimated between 80 and 100.
Until a few years ago, villages adjoining the BNP faced wild elephants destroying their crops between October and November, the time for harvesting paddy. But the trouble from elephants is experienced almost throughout the year now, says Thapa.
Villagers flee for safety
The residents of Parsinepur in Manau-5, Bardiya, left their houses on Wednesday night after a herd of wild elephants rampaged through their settlement, killing one person and injuring two. Around 100 people living in huts are taking shelter at a local school building and at their relatives’. Kumar Lamichhane, headmaster of Ganesh Secondary School, said security personnel are patrolling the village.
“We have closed morning coaching classes for a week after the elephant killed a woman,” said Lamichhane. Villagers spent sleepless night after the havoc. The elephants destroyed seven thatched houses.
Meanwhile, the Bardiya National Park is going to provide Rs500,000 as compensation for the family of the deceased. Ashok Kumar Bhandari, assistant conservation officer, said the BNP will provide treatment for the injured.