Jamshedpur, Sept. 29: A 40-year-old man was trampled to death by a rogue elephant in a Chandil village early this morning, a fallout of an ongoing man-animal turf war that has left district forest officials groping for solutions.
Umapada Singh was one of many residents of Ramgarh who had tried to surround a herd of eight elephants that had anchored itself near the village for the the past three days or so. Apparently angered by human presence, one of the pachyderms charged the crowd and trampled Umapada, while he was trying to flee.
Later, the body was recovered by the police and sent for post-mortem to MGM Medical College mortuary. A compensation of Rs 10,000 was handed over to Umapada’s widow.
An official of Chandil forest range said villagers of Ramgarh, 50km from here, had been living under the constant threat of elephant attacks ever since the herd anchored itself there. So much so that the men of the village stayed awake at nights to guard their crops.
“The herd has moved towards the Ramgarh jungles but possibility of it ambling back to the village cannot be ruled out. We have asked the villagers to remain alert,” the forester said.
Officials of the Seraikela-Kharsawan forest division also held a meeting with Ramgarh villagers later in the day today to explain the futility of trying to surround or scare an elephant herd.
“Villagers are often not aware of the fact that trying to surround an herd could be dangerous. During the meeting we told villagers about the dos and don’ts in case elephants entered their village,” Seraikela-Kharsawan divisional forest officer A.T. Mishra told The Telegraph.
He added that the herd had been wandering around the area for the past three days and had come down from Dalma hills.
“I am not completely sure if the elephants were part of a bigger herd that were headed towards the forests of west Midnapore and Bankura in Bengal. We have distributed fire crackers among the villagers,” Mishra said.
The divisional forest officer added that a 15-member anti-depredation squad had been deputed in the area to keep a watch and prevent the reoccurrence of such an incident. The villagers have been asked to stay alert and not instigate the elephants while they are on the move. He also said the herd might amble back into the village lured by the crops of maize and paddy that were growing there.
“We are keeping an eye on the situation. The same herd had entered a village near Kali temple some days ago,” a Chandil range forest office staff said.