Elephant tramples four to death, angry villagers demand Rs 25 lakh ex-gratia
The incident triggered panic among locals in Angul, Bantala and Talcher ranges of the division.
ANGUL/BHUBANESWAR: An adult elephant that strayed into human settlements trampled four persons to death in Angul Forest Division on Saturday morning triggering massive outrage in the locality. Irate villagers kept the bodies of three deceased in front of the district collectorate for more than an hour in the afternoon seeking Rs 25 lakh compensation for their families. They also sought immediate measures in place to check human-elephant conflict in the region.
Forest officials said the tusk-less male jumbo (makhna) went on a rampage and attacked Subash Biswal (60) from Chheliapada, Anirudhha Sahoo (55) from Angarabandha, Ramesh Swain (60) from Barasingha and Ajay Samal (55) from Gada Santiri leading to their death.
The wild elephant, as per reports, first attacked Subash Biswal at a crop field in Chheliapada village under Bantala range at around 6.30 am. It then went to Angarabandha village where it attacked Anirudhha Sahoo who was working in his garden. Thereafter, the jumbo moved close to Barasingha and mauled Ramesh Swain who had gone to a nearby forest and next attacked Ajay Samal in Gada Santiri. The first three persons died on the spot in the attack, while the fourth person succumbed to injuries on way to Angul hospital.
The incident triggered panic among locals in Angul, Bantala and Talcher ranges of the division. The villagers who alleged apathy on part of the forest department in preventing elephants from straying into crop fields and human settlements in the area staged protest by keeping bodies of the three deceased persons in front of Angul Collectorate at around 3.15 pm. A team of officials comprising two ADMs, Angul sub-collector, SDPO and DFO, however, managed to convince the agitators after which they called of the protest and took the bodies for cremation.
PCCF (Wildlife) Sushil Kumar Popli, who termed the incident as unfortunate, ordered instant release of Rs 1 lakh out of the total Rs 4 lakh ex-gratia that will be paid to the families of the deceased in such cases. “Field staff of Angul and Dhenkanal division are on alert and tracking the movement of the jumbo, while a tranquilising team has been kept ready to ensure the elephant is darted if it moves to nearby human settlement,” he added.
RCCF Angul M Yogajayanand said the elephant that has moved into forests of Hindol range in Dhenkanal Division later on the day stopped showing any aggression in the evening. Angul DFO Vivek Kumar said the makhna was a part of the 25-member herd moving in the Mandargiri reserve forest of Angul for the last few days. “Last night it got separated from the herd and moved towards fields of nearby villages where it had a direct encounter with four villagers,” he said. A decision has been taken for trenching and solar fencing of vulnerable areas, he added.
The State has witnessed at least 322 human casualties in elephant attack in the last three years between 2019-20 and 2021-22, the highest among all states. On the other hand, over 90 wild elephants have been killed due to various accidents, poaching and poisoning in Odisha in last five years from 2017-18 to 2021-22.