|One of the houses destroyed by the wild elephant in Coramore in Udalguri district on Tuesday. Picture by UB Photos
Kokrajhar, July 15: Four persons were trampled to death by a wild elephant at Coramore under Paneri police station in Udalguri district near the Indo-Bhutan border last evening.
Dhira Digal, 32, Simon Digal, 40, Victor Ekka, 30 were trampled to death by the elephant while they were trying to chase it back into the forest at Coramore tea garden last night.
Budhan Mura, 45, was killed by the same animal at Bormukuli, about 1km from Coramore tea garden.
The man-elephant conflict has assumed alarming proportions in several parts of Udalguri and Baksa districts in the Bodoland Territorial Areas District (BTAD) bordering Bhutan.
Ten persons have been killed by wild elephants this year in Udalguri district alone.
In 2013, 19 people were killed and 10 elephants died in the men-elephant conflicts in the district.
An elephant calf was electrocuted at Gitibari near Paneri yesterday.
“At the root of the conflict lies rampant deforestation triggered by illegal encroachment. The unabated destruction of forests and encroachment of forestland either for raising tea plantations or private plantations have compelled wild elephants to enter human habitats,” said Ananta Bagh of Green Valley Forest and Wildlife Protection Society, an NGO.
“Herds of elephants come to the villages in search of food and shelter and in the process, destroy houses, damage crops and even trample people to death. Many times, these elephants attack and kill the villagers when the latter try to chase them away,” he said.
Official statistics said the three reserve forests — Khalingduar, Rowta and Bhairabkunda — and Barnadi wildlife sanctuary comprise an area of 19,892 hectares, of which 4,362 hectares have been encroached upon.
A part of the Chirang-Ripu elephant reserve with several critical elephant corridors and prime elephant habitats, these forests are severely eroded because of encroachment and illegal felling.
“It is largely because of habitat loss and continuous anthropocentric pressures that elephants are driven into human settlements,” a forest source said.