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regular-article-logo Wednesday, 19 June 2024

Wild elephant kills three elderly persons in Jhargram

Foresters say loner elephants are becoming a threat for increasing incidents of human-animal conflicts

Snehamoy Chakraborty Calcutta Published 25.03.23, 03:26 AM
Villagers gather outside a forest department office following the death of three persons in an attack by elephants in Jhargram on Friday.

Villagers gather outside a forest department office following the death of three persons in an attack by elephants in Jhargram on Friday. Buddhadeb Bera

A wild elephant on Friday morning killed three elderly persons in Jhargram when a group of people was busy collecting mahua flowers for their livelihood.

The villagers claimed that at least three residents who had gone inside the at Bhulaveda forest could not be traced till Friday evening. A forest officer said at least six persons were killed, including these three in elephant attacks in the past week.

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A senior forest officer said the pachyderm had entered the area from West Midnapore late on Thursday night and the department could not alert the villagers as per the protocol.

“This is the time when a lot of local villagers go into the forest to collect Mahua flowers. The area is not a usual elephant habitat and it is a practice by villagers to go inside the forest to collect mahua flowers for their livelihood. Those who died are elderly people who could not run away to save themselves from the pachyderm’s attack,” said a senior forester in Jhargram.

Gurucharan Mahata, 65, Saroj Mahata, 60, and Suvala Pal, 59, were killed in a radius of five kilometres in the Bhulaveda forest range of Jhargram. While the first two are men, Pal is a woman.

These three are among thousands of poor Jungle Mahal villagers who go into the forest during the springtime to collect the mahua flowers that they sell to earn a livelihood.

“Mahua flowers (Madhuca longifolia)is an Indian tropical tree found largely in the central, southern, and north Indian plains and forests and very useful in making liquor and medicines. Poor villagers collect those flowers during the springtime and sell them to get some money. It is part of their livelihood,” said a source.

“Two persons who managed to flee after spotting the rowdy elephant inside the forest were first to inform us about the death of a person. Later we traced two more persons who were also killed by the jumbo. We are continuing the search for those who have not returned to their homes,” said an official in Jhargram.

According to a forester, there are four loner jumbos roaming in the Jhargram. Villagers said the elephant that killed the three persons on Friday moved towards Jharkhand.

Foresters said loner elephants were becoming a threat for increasing incidents of human-animal conflicts and around 25 people had been killed in the past six months in the four Jungle Mahal districts.

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