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Elephant Electrocuted In Chhattisgarh

Elephant Electrocuted In Chhattisgarh

A male elephant was electrocuted in Ongana village in Dharamjaigarh, Chhattisgarh on January 9, 2017.

Electrocuted male elephant in Raja Ram Rathia’s field. Photo: Sajal Madhu.

In another tragic incident of human-elephant conflict, a male elephant was electrocuted in Ongana village in Dharamjaigarh, Chhattisgarh on January 9, 2017.

The carcass of the elephant was found in a field owned by a farmer named Raja Ram Rathiya. However, the farmer claimed that the elephant’s death was caused by an open 170 m. long electric wire trap set by two villagers for hunting wild boar in his field. The two villagers in question denied the farmer's claims, asserting that they were being falsely accused.

According to the locals of the village, the elephant had been visiting Ongana regularly for in the past few months and had even attacked and killed one person in December 2016.

Chhattisgarh, rife with instances of human-elephant conflict, is witnessing a rise in casualties on both sides. The first week of January 2017 saw the horrific death of a female elephant and her unborn calf. The female, in the last stages of pregnancy, had come in contact with electric wires enclosing a sugarcane field in the district of Surajpur, Chhattisgarh. The farmer had laid these electric wires to protect his crops from regular crop raiding by elephants.

Sajal Madhu of Hathi Bachao Sangharsh Samiti in Chhattisgarh had filed an RTI requesting information on the number of wild elephant deaths recorded from the year 2005 to the year 2015, in Dharamjaigarh, Chhattisgarh.

The responses from the Chhattisgarh Forest Department state that up until 2009, only four elephant deaths were recorded, out of which one was caused by electrocution. After 2009, the number of recorded elephant deaths saw a sharp rise. 2012 witnessed the highest number of elephant deaths, with five out of eight deaths caused by electrocution.

These numbers, though restricted to the area of Dharamjaigarh, are indicative of the extent of the human-elephant conflict. Sanctuary’s on ground sources maintain that the situation in the state is bleaker than one could possibly imagine, and that official numbers do not accurately reflect the ground realities.

While the Chhattisgarh state government pays crores of rupees in restitution for the damage caused to human life and property, the destruction caused to the environment becomes irreparable and cannot be compensated for. The state government needs to acknowledge the problem at hand. Rather than sanctioning coal mining projects that further eat into elephant habitats, the government should look into reviving the long shelved Lemru Elephant Reserve programme.

In 2009, the proposed Lemru Elephant Reserve in Korba district of Chhattisgarh was discreetly shafted even after attaining the Centre’s approval. Under pressure from industrial lobbying, the state government buckled and allocated the forest areas that would have made up the reserve to coal conglomerates instead. Overlooking the needs of resident tribals and environmental concerns, the government cleared the way for coal mining in forests that were previously untouched by industries.

Author: Anadya Singh


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