By R. Krishna Das
A herd of elephants marched into the coal-rich pocket of Dharamjaigarh and walked into an electrocuted trap, killing one in another glaring example of man-elephant conflict.
The villagers had fenced the area between Khadgaon and Semipali forests to protect lives and property from the terror of tuskers migrating in the area. On Saturday, the villagers electrified the fence as part of the exercise to check the movement of a herd of 8 elephants moving in the forests.
One of the tuskers came in contact with the electrified fence and was killed on the spot itself. This was the 18th incident of elephant death in the area in the last one year even as man-animal conflict had been assuming alarming proportion. The area comes under the Dharamjaigarh forest division and had been endowed with rich coal mines that had been the major stumbling block for the solution to the problem.
The local residents had been demanding an elephant corridor in the area to prevent the movement of tuskers mostly migrating from adjoining Odisha forests. The villagers in August 2013 held a gram sabha, first of its kind, to register a complaint against ever increasing human-elephant conflict in the area.
People from nearly 20 villages demanded a “corridor” for elephants. Interestingly, the administration had come out with an alleged lame excuse that there was no movement of elephants in the area that put the demand for a corridor under the cold carpet.
“The local forest circle declared it [Dharamjaigarh\ an elephant-free zone that was baseless and had been aimed to help the corporate to explore rich coal from the area,” social activist Sajal Madhu said. An elephant corridor meant no mining in the area that the administration wanted to avoid, he added.
The forest officials however denied comment on the issue. They however said action had been taken against the villager who electrocuted the fencing that killed a tusker.