Residents of Koshi wildlife reserve buffer zones demand killing of a rogue elephantThe tusker would either be tethered by a chain or killed as per the recommendation of a team of experts from Chitwan National Park.
Pramod Yadav, aged 28, of Shreepur in Sunsari district was the latest victim of human-animal conflict in the buffer zones of Koshi Tappu Wildlife Reserve.
An adult male elephant from the reserve killed Pramod while he was working at his wheat field in Koshi Rural Municipality Ward No. 6 on Monday.
“There was poor visibility due to a thick fog. The victim could not see the elephant from a distance so he could not flee. The elephant killed him on the spot,” said Eiyub Ansari, the chairman of Koshi Rural Municipality.
As many as 24 people, including Pramod, were killed in separate attacks of wild elephants in the buffer zones in Sunsari, Saptari and Udayapur districts in the past four years. And the same tusker identified as Makhna that killed Pramod, according to Ansari, attacked and killed at least 18 of the deceased.
Elephants without tusks are identified as ‘Makhna’. These tuskless elephants have a genetic condition which impedes the growth of tusks.
As per the data available at the reserve, around 250 people were injured, some of them maimed, in attacks by wild elephants during the same period.
The elephant, which is believed to be between 25 to 30 years of age, is wreaking havoc in the buffer zone areas. Residents of Koshi Rural Municipality and Barahachhetra Municipality of Sunsari; Saptakoshi and Kanchanrup municipalities of Saptari and Belaka Municipality of Udayapur have been greatly affected by the elephant’s menace.
The local residents have demanded that the elephant be killed, claiming that he has gone mad.
“He has killed many people and destroyed properties in the area. There is no alternative but to kill him and save people’s lives,” said Chandan Yadav of Koshi Rural Municipality.
A radio collar had been installed on the elephant three years ago to track its movement. But he continues to claim the lives and properties of many in the buffer zone area.
The affected local units, district administrations and the reserve administration are discussing plans to control the marauding elephant. An all party meeting was held in Sunsari on Tuesday to find appropriate solutions to prevent human-wildlife conflict.
“There is a huge loss of lives and properties due to attacks by wildlife, including elephant, wild water buffalo and wild boar, each year. And the rogue elephant was behind most of the killings and destruction of the properties. The all party meeting came to the conclusion to kill the tusker by fulfilling due legal process,” said Ansari, who attended the meeting.
According to Chandra Shekhar Chaudhary, the warden of the Koshi Tappu Wildlife Reserve, there are seven wild elephants and three tamed elephants in the Koshi Tappu Wildlife Reserve area.
“The elephant which killed a man in Shreepur recently is the most violent among them. Other elephants are often afraid of human beings and run away but this one attacks people. The tusker should be controlled,” said Chaudhary.
Phadindra Mani Adhikari, the chief district officer of Sunsari, says the affected local units have been putting pressure on the local administration and the reserve administration to kill Makhna.
“A team of technicians and experts from Chitwan National Park has been called to study Makhna and his activities. They will recommend what should be done with the elephant,” Adhikari said.
According to Chaudhary, the team from Chitwan National Park arrived at Koshi Tappu Wildlife Reserve and started its work from Wednesday.
“Efforts are underway to control the elephant and study its behaviour and mental state. We will reach a conclusion only after conducting a detailed study on the tusker,” said Chaudhary. According to him, wildlife doctor Amir Saduala and technician Tirtha Lama from Chitwan have been working along with the reserve’s officials to control the elephant and study its behaviour.
As per clause 10, sub-cause A of the National Park and Wildlife Conservation Act 1973, a rogue elephant can be killed to save people’s lives and properties.
“We will act in accordance with the suggestions recommended by the team of technicians and experts from Chitwan,” said Chaudhary. He said the elephant would either be tethered by a chain or killed as per the recommendation of the study team. “We can tie two of his legs with an iron chain so that it cannot walk fast. It will help save lives and properties from the destruction he can cause.”
Wildlife conservationists, however, are against the elephant’s killing and say there are many other ways to tame the elephant.