Another Unnatural Elephant Death In Chhattisgarh
A wild elephant died in Pori village of Chhattisgarh's Raigarh district after consuming pesticide-laden crops from a field. The body of the young bull elephant was discovered on September 19th, following which the forest department was informed of the incident.
Photo: Sajal Madhu.
While the post-mortem report is awaited, it is suspected that the animal died from pesticide poisoning. In an interview with Sanctuary's Mud on Boots Project Leader Sajal Madhu, the concerned farmer admitted to having sprayed the periphery of his field with phorate, a highly toxic insecticide, in an attempt to repel wild elephant herds that regularly cause crop depredation in the area.
Madhu, who has been working to record and mitigate Human-Elephant Conflict in Raigarh under his initiative Hathi Bachao Sangharsh Samiti, also interviewed Divisional Forest Officer Pranay Mishra who was present at the scene. "There are 143 elephants in Dharamjaigarh, of which 70 elephants are here in the Chhal range alone. The farmer reported the death of an elephant in his field and informed us that he had sprayed phorate on his crops the previous day. Prima facie, this is a case of accidental poisoning," said Mishra. He further clarified that the forest department does not promote the the use of phorate to deter elephants from standing fields. However, after the harvest season when crops are stored in homes, farmers are sometimes told to hang solid phorate in their houses as elephants are believed to be repelled by its smell. Mishra also appealed to the community to allow the elephants the right of passage in the interest of both human and animal safety. "If elephants enter your fields, please do not approach them. They will eat and leave, and the Forest Department will compensate you for the damages caused," he said.
Human-Elephant conflict in Chhattisgarh has claimed the lives of a number of elephants and people this year, including two women who were trampled to death by a herd of elephants in May and two elephants, one of which was pregnant, that were electrocuted in January. Though the forest department and local activists are stretching their limited resources to find solutions, sustained and scientific interventions are urgently required in the state to address this simmering crisis.
The Sanctuary Nature Foundation launched the Mud on Boots Project in January 2017. The programme aims to enable and empower grassroots conservationists like Sajal Madhu. To support this initiative, please email