Pascal Munda of Morongi tea estate at Numaligarh in Upper Assam pays a high price for allegedly teasing wild elephants. On Sunday evening, tea garden workers came face to face with a herd of wild elephants crossing the National Highway 39.
As can be seen from the images, the workers and passers-by attempted to chase the animals, despite the fact that only a few of them had previously approached the pachyderms.
One of the herd members became enraged by the constant baiting and teasing and pursued the people. Pascal fell while attempting to flee the chasing elephant and was stomped by the enraged animal. He was pronounced dead at Golaghat Civil Hospital.
Dr Kushal Sharma, a well-known elephant expert, conveyed his condolences to the grieving family.
The truth behind the occurrence, however, must be probed to see whether he was truly heading home after a long day’s work or if he was one of those people who was provoking the elephant herd. Herd elephants are generally harmless, until one becomes overly adventurous with them.
During the last 10 years, at least 812 people have died in Assam due to human-elephant conflict, Environment and Forests Minister Parimal Suklabaidya, who informed state parliament on Wednesday.
At 115, Udalguri district had the most deaths followed by Sonitpur with 103, Goalpara with 74, and Darrang with 51 deaths, according to the minister in response to a query from BJP MLA Terash Gowala. The remaining deaths were reported from a number of different districts.
According to Suklabaidya, the state administration has taken a number of steps to reduce human-animal conflict.
He said that one of the solutions is the development of a committee that informs the railways, power and forest departments about the movement of animals in critical areas.
In order to address elephant-human conflict, local officials have been urged to organise volunteer organisations that may work together to prevent animal damage.
According to him, the World Wild Fund (WWF) has been hired to train the Village Defense Party (VDP) on how to reduce human-elephant conflict.
To prevent the violence, Anti-Depredation Squads have been established in each district with each squad receiving the necessary equipment to deal with the problem.
Suklabaidya said that financial funds have been approved for the construction of watchtowers equipped with night vision systems.