Elephant tramples 70-year-old woman to death in Odisha’s Dhenkanal district
She is the sixth person to die in human-elephant conflict in Dhenkanal this monthindia Updated: Apr 21, 2018 20:15 IST
An elephant trampled a 70-year-old woman to death at a village in Dhenkanal on Saturday morning, making her the sixth person to die in human-elephant conflict in the Odisha district this month.
Police identified the victim as Satyabati Swain of Kaurianpal village under Sadar forest range of Dhenkanal, located about 105 km northwest of state capital Bhubaneswar.
According to forest and wildlife officials, the elephant attacked Swain when she had gone to attend nature’s call.
On the other side of human-elephant conflict, a female jumbo was injured after being hit by a train while crossing railway tracks near Rasasingh in Dhenkanal on Friday night.
Dhenkanal forest and wildlife officials said most of the deaths have happened in the morning hours, and advised villagers not to venture out early in the morning.
“We are trying our best to reduce human-elephant conflict. If people adopt some precautionary measures, deaths can be avoided,” said Dhenkanal divisional forest officer Rinku Kumari.
Conflict between the elephants and humans has been growing at an alarming rate in Odisha over last three to four years in Dhenkanal, Sundargarh, Keonjhar, Angul, Sambalpur and Cuttack districts.
Dhenkanal is the worst affected, with multiple deaths on both sides.
Of the 85 human casualties in human-elephant conflict in Odisha in 2017-18, Dhenkanal accounted for the highest with 19 deaths. Similarly, of the 73 elephant deaths in 2017-18 in Odisha, the district accounted for 18.
Odisha government gives Rs 4 lakh as ex gratia to family of a person killed in an elephant attack, while an injured person gets Rs 1 lakh.
According to wildlife activists, industrialisation in Dhenkanal, destruction and fragmentation of elephant habitats in the last 15 years has driven the jumbos towards human settlements leading to frequent conflicts.
The 95-km long Rengali Right Bank Canal and the 123-km-long Rengali Left Bank Canal ploughing through the elephant corridor is a major cause of distress for the jumbos, said Biswajit Mohanty of Wildlife Society of Odisha, an NGO.
“When the canal was proposed in the nineties, the forest department should have opposed it. Now it is the main cause of distress for elephants, who have been boxed in a small area,” said Mohanty.
An investigation into human-elephant conflict in eight ranges of Dhenkanal forest division by a team of four researchers in 2013 found that despite measures such as physical barriers, electric fencing, olfactory repellents, distress noise and co-operative guarding of crops, the problem persisted.