Monday, 30th October 2017

E- paper

Blast at tiger turf kills tusker

An elephant, that was severely injured after stepping on a landmine in the Burha Pahar area, succumbed to injuries 24 hours later yesterday, highlighting how vulnerable animals in and around Palamau Tiger Reserve are to continuing police-rebel conflicts.

By A.S.R.P. Mukesh in Ranchi
  • Published 22.09.17
  •  

Ranchi, Sept. 21: An elephant, that was severely injured after stepping on a landmine in the Burha Pahar area, succumbed to injuries 24 hours later yesterday, highlighting how vulnerable animals in and around Palamau Tiger Reserve are to continuing police-rebel conflicts.

The male elephant, aged around 20, injured itself at Burah Pahar, which is on the tri-junction of Latehar and Garhwa districts of Jharkhand and Balrampur district of Chhattisgarh, on Tuesday night. Its right leg bore the brunt of the explosion and the elephant lay there bleeding, said local sources.

PTR director M.P. Singh said they rushed a team to the spot. "Though we had rushed a local doctor with a team to attend to the elephant, we could not save the animal. It died last night," he told The Telegraph, adding that a post-mortem was being conducted at Betla.

But local residents refuted the claim, saying the animal died a lonely and painful death as no team was able to reach the area, which was in the buffer area of the reserve.

"For the last few days, anti-Naxalite operations have been underway at Burha Pahar. Many more landmines are likely to have been planted on the ground by rebels to keep security forces at bay. Venturing into the area without guidance and police cover is risky," said a longtime resident of the area, adding that life in PTR was dangerous for both forest workers as well as animals.

The man recalled an incident in 1990 when the vehicle of a former PTR director was blown up in similar fashion while patrolling. Two officials were killed, but the director and his team had a miraculous escape.

Daltonganj-based wildlife activist D.S. Srivastava maintained that animals getting killed in police-Naxalite crossfire in PTR was an open secret. But a fatality due to a landmine blast was something he had never heard of before.

"The reserve came into being in the mid-70s. In 2013, an elephant died in police-Naxalite crossfire in the Kujrum area. Though there isn't anything on record, it is common knowledge that animals from the region often migrate to other places due to issues of extremism," said the expert who has served in several wildlife committees set up by the state and Centre.

Srivastava said yesterday's elephant death should serve as a warning. "Otherwise more animals could die. Burha Pahar is an important corridor for animal movement. Who knows how many more landmines have been planted."

"I can only request CRPF and police to try and ensure that main animal corridors are properly sanitised," he said.

PTR director Singh promised to try and raise the issue with the district police.