The fight between man and elephant is increasing day by day. Death of men by the elephants is compensated by death of elephants in equal proportions. The man-elephant fight has taken a meaningful dimension during the past decade. Incidents of elephant attacks have increased manifold as never before and this man in the name of industrialization has displaced and destroyed animal kingdom where our forest property existed.
Deforestation and mining:
Man thinks the entire world as his home, ignoring the other animals and creatures which live outside him. The present fight between man and elephant is due to expansion of the human kingdom. Deforestation and mining have dispelled and destroyed natural properties like forests, fountains, hills and animals. No water is now available in jungles and thirsty animals find no other alternatives than trading the mortal path and using human food and water.
Famine has now hit forests with cracking sound of industrialization and dusty environment adding to the woes of animal kingdom. Not many days ago, the news of a wild elephant begging for food to the passerby on the Keonjhar national highway had hit the headlines of Odia newspapers. No situation is worse than the plight of the elephant in the above instance. We have seen human beggars, but an elephant begging for food to passerby and truck owners is a tragic story hardly told.
An elephant is a natural-born owner of the forest and now its forest kingdom is lost and with it its food and water. Elephant’s visit to the paddy-land is fraught with no less grave risk. At times, electrocution kills elephants. Elephants are not enemies of mankind and those were never so, but now they seem to have become aware of actions of mankind and their search for food lands them in populated villages and destruction is the outcome. Elephants kill people, destroy crops and homes. The irony of fate is that the victims of elephant-attack have no role in deforestation or industrialization.
Mine-owners and mine-mafia:
The perpetrators are the mine-owners and mine-mafia who enjoy life at the cost of poor villages who are the victims. The environmentalists easily term the attack of elephants as revenge on mankind. However, innocent people are often the victims of the man-animal fight and the persons killed are rarely those responsible for destruction and deforestation. On one hand, the perpetrator lives in abject luxury, on the other harmless fall prey to elephant-ire. Various precious human lives have been lost in the recent past due to elephant-attack, but only a few thousand rupees as compensation by the government cannot solve the problem.
Government is insensitive to this man-animal confrontation and no permanent solution or planning is in place. Rather, the situation is getting complex day-by-day owing to the mounting greed of wealthy people and political touts to grab the forest lands all-around. Government’s responsibility does not cease with awarding compensation only. Even foresters, doctors, policemen and revenue inspectors have a lion’s share from those compensations for which the victims’ families runs from pillars to post. As per the statistics, the death ratio of man and elephant between 2008-09 to 2013-14 (up to 17th of June 2013) is 334: 346.
The break-up of elephant-death is 29 by hunting, 17 by poisoning, 29 by killing with electrocution, 14 by rail-accident and 70 by disease. The cause of death of the rest of elephants is not known. However, what we gather from the above statistics is that more than pure calamity, killing of elephants by men has been far more in numbers. If 65 elephants died in the natural course, 75 were put to death in the most inhuman manner.
In the past, a more ecological balance existed in the society and ‘live and let live’ was the principle. There was the interdependence between the man and the elephant and both lived and loved their respective abodes and kingdoms. Elephants did not find it necessary to trample a man to death or to tread upon the human habitation and men never encroached upon the food and fodder, the natural habitation and spring or pond-water of elephants.
There was a virtual boundary or a forbidden line between them and none of them transgressed it. The more we get civilized, the more otherworldly and intolerant we become any more trouble we invite for ourselves and the rest.
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