Ranchi: A tusker has allegedly killed 16 people in five Jharkhand districts in the past 12 days with four in a single block of Ranchi district Tuesday, Forest department officials said. This has prompted the Ranchi administration to impose prohibitory order under Section 144 in Itki block prohibiting gathering more than five people to restrict further casualties, Ranchi divisional Forest officer Srikant Verma said.
Villagers of Itki block have been asked to remain inside their houses, especially during sunrise and sunset. They have also been asked not to go close any elephant, he said.
“Villagers are gathering near the elephant, which caused one death today. In a bid to stop them, Section 144 Cr PC has been imposed by Ranchi administration in Itki block today,” Verma informed.
The Forest department is taking all possible steps, including engaging an expert team from West Bengal to tackle the elephant, which is suspected to have killed 16 people in Hazaribag, Ramgarh, Chatra, Lohardaga and Ranchi districts in the past 12 days, the principal chief conservator of forest (wildlife) Sasikar Samanta said.
“We have constituted a committee comprising forest officers of four divisions and headed by the Ranchi conservator of forest. The committee will determine if the same elephant has killed all the 16 people. If the committee certifies it, we will take a decision in a day or two,” Samanta added.
“It seems that the elephant is behaving abruptly. The committee will examine if the elephant is deliberately killing people or the people are themselves responsible for their death,” Samanta further stated.
The elephant had reportedly trampled to death four persons, including two women in Lohardaga district Monday and one Sunday. It appeared to have entered Ranchi’s Itki block, about 25 km from the capital city, Monday night and reportedly killed four persons, including two women and injured one on Tuesday morning, Verma said.
The Ranchi DFO said that it is suspected that the same elephant killed five people in Hazaribag about 12 days ago and then moved to Ramgarh, where it trampled to death person one in Gola area. The animal then allegedly moved on to Chatra and killed another person. “We are examining the photographs and other aspects to determine if it is the same elephant,” Verma stated.
Lohardaga divisional forest officer (DFO) Arvind Kumar said Tuesday that an expert team from Bankura district of West Bengal was engaged to drive away the tusker deep into the forest. “We have a tracking system in which every district gives an input on elephant movement in their respective areas. Besides, we also have photos and videos of the jumbos. This elephant has tusks and the one which caused casualties in Hazaribagh, Lohardagga and Ranchi is also a tusker,” Kumar informed. “We will match the height and other parameters to determine whether it is the same one,” he added.
A Forest department official said that an immediate relief of Rs 25,000 is being given to the kin of each of the deceased. An amount of Rs 3.75 lakh compensation will be provided to each victim’s family after completing the mandatory government procedures.
Man-elephant conflicts have spiked in Jharkhand with reports stating that 133 people have died in jumbo attacks in 2021-22, a steep climb from 84 in 2020-21.