Jharkhand: Wild wild elephants, villagers seek refuge in government high school; Pathalgarhi movement that acts as a deterrent

RANCHI: Eight families from a village seeking refuge in an adjacent village after a herd of wild elephants, attracted by the scent of Hariya (rice beer), rioted and razed their kuccha houses on Saturday night.

At least 10 houses in the village of Sasangbera, dominated by tribes, were completely damaged after the strong herd of elephants of 17 members, who emigrated from West Bengal, razed its walls, destroyed utensils and killed a buffalo in a chaos that started shortly after 10 pm And it lasted an hour.

Petrified Bindu Devi, Mangala Devi, Sonia Devi, Budhram Lohra, Bahadur Lohra, Sitaram Munda, Bulu Munda, Domni Bala and Durgamani Devi spent the night chilling in open with their families even after the herd of elephants retired after leaving a trail of destruction. The Khunti district administration moved them to the facilities of Sirkadih High School in the neighboring town of Sindri on Sunday morning.

Arki (BDO) block development officer Gautam Kumar Sahu said the affected families received new blankets, a quintal of rice and potatoes as immediate relief. “Of 10 houses, eight have been completely damaged. Affected families will receive pucca houses under the government scheme. The magnitude of the damage is being evaluated. From then on, the department of forests, environment and climate change will pay compensation, ”he added.

Khunti foresters live to the limit. DFO Niranjan Prasad Dev said that, in addition to the sweeping pack, another herd of seven elephants (including a calf) was seen around 3 a.m. in a forest near the adjacent villages of Todang, Kothadih and Baredih. On Saturday night, the herd ransacked the barns and damaged standing crops, Dev said.

Arki is under the Tamar forest range, which overlaps the neighboring Ranchi district and is a prominent migratory route of wild elephants between and West Bengal. The increasing human interference has led to an increase in conflicts between men and animals in recent years. In 2018, the forestry department distributed compensation in 164 incidents of damage to life, property, crops and infrastructure caused by elephant attacks from the distribution area. In 2019, more than 210 cases were reported in the area. In fiscal year 2019-20, we have compensation that amounted to Rs 1 million accumulated rupees, of which Rs 70 lakh have been disbursed, Dev said.

In addition to the harvest, elephants are attracted to the aroma of rice beer that is made in these villages during the winter. Two days ago, a lone fang entered Sasangbera and devoured Hariya, who remained in the battery after brewing, said Tamar's ranger, Amarnath Bhagat.

Pathalgarhi movement

Interestingly, Pathalgarhi movement is also acting as a deterrent in thwarting such conflicts. A forester said request anonymity: “After Pathalgarhi uprising in 2018, locals have turned hostile and not allowing us to enter their villages. The forest department is trying to create forest conservation committees in these villages which will in turn will arm the villagers with torches, searchlights and other equipment to keep elephants at bay. But the locals are not cooperating. So far, we have only been able to constitute 40 such committees in 120 odd villages in the range, which is spread over an area of 100 square kilometers.”