Chhattisgarh Human-Elephant Conflict: Three Killed
In May 2019, farmers in the Dharamjaigarh block of the Raigarh district of Chhattisgarh faced severe crop depredation from wild elephants. According to information shared by activist and Sanctuary's Mud on Boots Project Leader Sajal Madhu, four herds of 53 elephants in total have been causing panic in four gram panchayats in the region. The distressed community is now also afraid to visit the forests. This is worrisome as it is the season to collect tendu leaves, which is an important source of income for many households here.
Three humans also lost their lives due to elephant attacks within a span of two days. In the village of Sithra, a 68-year-old retired solider was trampled by an elephant when he stepped our of his house at 3:30 a.m on May 4, 2019, to answer the call of nature. Open defecation and the lack of toilets can increase the risk of conflict. In another tragic incident, two men lost their lives while collecting tendu in the forest area on the morning of May 5, 2019.
Anguished by these deaths, members of the community clashed with the local police and forest department. Project Leader Sajal Madhu served as a mediator between the people and the authorities, connecting the agitators to DFO Pranay Mishra over a call. The DFO assured the villagers that the department is working to track and control elephant movement, that a particularly aggressive tusker would be collared and relocated and that compensation would be given to the victims' families.
"People have started losing their patience. How can human life be compensated by any amount of money? The conflict is only going to worsen if we do not take immediate action to protect and restore the last remaining forest patches of the state." said Sajal Madhu. On the basis of Sajal's reports, Sanctuary alerted officials of Project Elephant to the human-elephant conflict crisis in Chhattisgarh and requested urgent intervention. Though the Ministry of Environment sent a letter directing the Chief Wildlife Warden of Chhattisgarh to look into the matter and deliver a report on the issue, Sanctuary received no further responses to subsequent inquiries on the status of the report.