In Jhapa, uncle-cousin duo gets electrocuted, falling into fences set up against tuskersThe district has seen 39 deaths from similar incidents in the past nine years.
On Friday night, 18-year-old Abhinash Rai and his maternal uncle, Maniram Rai, 35, set out on a trip to the nearby paddy fields to trap fish. They had to cross the Navajyoti Community Forest, in Buddha Shanti Rural Municipality-4, to get to the field.
Their trip ended in tragedy as they were caught in an electrified fence that was set up to keep away elephants. Both of them died on the spot. The bodies were discovered the following morning.
The uncle-cousin duo’s death is the latest in a series of incidents where people get trapped in live wires set up to prevent the tuskers from straying into settlements and arable fields. Data from the District Forest Office shows 39 people have died in similar incidents in the past nine years—including three deaths this year. Eleven tuskers were electrocuted to death in the period.
For years, Jhapa has been in the news for human-elephant conflict. Every year, farmers resort to setting up electric fences to prevent the tuskers from raiding their crops.
Bishnu Lal Ghimire, chief of the Jhapa district forest office, said setting up electric fences to restrict elephants is illegal but locals continue to do it. “Despite awareness programmes, the alarming trend shows no signs of slowdown,” said Ghimire. “Nobody has the right to electrocute animals for any reason.”
Jhapa locals, fed up with marauding elephants year after year, continue to install electric fences in a desperate measure to protect their crops and lives. Areas such as Bahundangi, Buddha Shanti, Bhadrapur and Arjundhara are most affected by the invasion of indigenous elephants and those crossing over from India.
“The recent incidents of human deaths are alarming and prod us to seek new measures to keep the elephants at bay,” Ghimire said. “For now, we are preparing to remove the electrified fences.”