Man-elephant conflict has taken a serious turn in Assam over the years Credit: EastMojo image

Goreswar: Sensation prevailed in the Tamulpur forest range near Goreswar in Assam’s Baksa district on Monday following the recovery of a wild elephant’s body from a paddy field at East Goyabari area.

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Sources close to the state forest department suspect that the elephant died due to food poisoning.

As per sources, a herd of 70 to 80 wild elephants come out of the Tamulpur forest range along the Indo-Bhutan border in search of food and water almost on a regular basis and enter the nearby villages. On Sunday, a herd entered the village and destroyed some of the houses and paddy fields. The villagers used fire crackers and torches to chase away the animals.

However, on Monday morning, some villagers recovered the body of a dead elephant, believed to be a member of the herd that entered the village on Sunday. Later, the villagers informed the forest department concerned and the animal was cremated after a post-mortem was conducted.

Earlier in March this year, a wild elephant killed a Tamulpur native — Mallika Pathok (4), daughter of Ranjit Pathok, at No1 Dongergaon village in Baksa district.

Sources said that a wild elephant came down from the Bhutan hills to the area in search of food and water and entered Dongergaon village. The elephant destroyed many houses in search of paddy and entered the house of Ranjit Pathok. The family members tried to save their lives by running away but the wild elephant, known as ‘Laden’, caught Mallika by its trunk and trampled her to death. Her pregnant mother Lata Pathok was also injured in the attack.

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Man-elephant conflict has taken a serious turn in Assam over the years. According to state government data, shared in the floor of the state assembly, during 2010 to February 2019, altogether 761 people and 249 jumbos have lost their lives. Most of these casualties have been reported from the districts of Sonitpur, Udalguri, Baksa, Golaghat, Nagaon, Goalpara and Karbi Anglong.

Wildlife activists believe that a rise in the encroachment of forest areas has caused habitat loss, forcing the pachyderms to come down to the plains in search of food and water, which has caused human deaths, including the destruction of houses and crops.

The data tabled in the assembly said that 1,021 houses were damaged by wild elephants in 2017-18 but the number went up to 2,034 in 2018-2019.

The tuskers too are on the receiving end. The number of elephant deaths has also increased from 25 in 2010 to 46 in 2017 and 27 in 2018.

Of the 249 elephant casualties, 92 died due to electrocution, 54 were mowed down by trains, 20 fell victim to poaching, 53 died in accidents and 30 were killed due to poisoning.

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