In two separate incidents of man-elephant conflict in Goalpara district of west Assam, two persons from areas under Rongjuli forest range lost their lives on Friday.
In the first incident, early on Friday morning, a herd of wild elephants comprising 25 to 30 elephants entered the Ambuk Bahbari village under the Dhupdhara Police Station in Goalpara.
The herd was on their way towards the forest areas under Kamrup (Rural) district which is their normal routine movement. But as the herd reached Ambuk Bahbari village, panic gripped the area due to sudden arrival of the herd and everyone tried to flee from the village.
At this point, one Satish Rabha, who also tried to run away, leaving behind his house, came in front of the herd. Showing no mercy, one jumbo trampled and thrashed Rabha. The villagers returned after sometime and finding Rabha seriously injured sent him to the nearest Bikali hospital where he breathed his last.
In another incident, one Manoj Hajong of Patpara Pahartoli in Rongjuli lost his life while trying to shoo away a big jumbo which has been nicknamed as ‘Laden’ by the locals. In a scintillating incident, two brothers – Manoj Hajong and Bidyadhar Hajong – heard the jumbo devouring their harvest in their house.
“Both brothers, who were reluctant to give away the earnings of the year, decided to shoo away the big animal. However, they were ignorant that it was none other than ‘Laden’. Instead of leaving the place, the jumbo in a quick knock thrashed Manoj Hajong to death. However, in a miraculous escape, his brother’s life was saved. The jumbo left him behind thinking that he was dead,” sources informed.
After the incidents, both forest and police officials reached the spots and took stock of the situation. The Rongjuli range officer helped the families with Rs 5,000 each for the cremation of the deceased.
The villagers claim that ‘Laden’ has alone taken several lives. The villagers have also alleged that the forest department has done nothing solid so far to tame the unruly animal. Though the department hired two domesticated elephants from Guwahati last week, one of them died due to natural cause prior to act against ‘Laden’.
Meanwhile, while talking to this correspondent, B Das, range forest officer of Rongjuli, said, “We have taken various measures to send back the elephant (‘Laden’) to the neighbouring hills of Meghalaya, but, it is so restless that it immediately leaves a place and roams around the district.”
The forest officer also said, “Its (‘Laden’) size is very big. Two domesticated elephants are not a match to it.”
When asked, is the forest department thinking of tranquilizing and relocating the animal, he replied that tranquilizing has its own problem of taking the vehicle near the jumbo. “Besides, the animal mostly roams in the remote areas where there are no roads. It will create major problem in boarding the animal after it is tranquilized.” The villagers under Rongjuli forest range have been passing sleepless nights fearing attacks of the elephant at any moment.