Elephants Destroy Houses and Tea Farms in Karbi Anglong

Karbi Anglong Residents Resent Forest Department Inaction

Elephants continue to bring havoc in Bokajan subdivision of Karbi Anglong district of Assam. The inaction of the Forest Department in the area has aroused resentment among victims as some residents have lost their homes due elephants roaming around the area. The wild elephants have also damaged a large number of tea bushes in a village over the past few days.

In all these incidents, the Forest department has turned a deaf ear to the complaints. When a victim informed the Range officer that his farm had been gobbled up and thousands of tea bushes had been crushed by a herd of wild elephants twice within a span of 48 hours, the Ranger reprimanded the farmer.

Sarcastic questions were asked by the ranger like “What are you suggesting to me? If your property has been damaged what can I do? Do you expect me to keep all the wild elephants tied up with rope?”

Rudra Kanta Mahanta resident of Deopani village in Bokajan while narrating the incident recalled that on Saturday and Sunday, a large herd of wild elephants ventured in his village from nearby Silonijan range of Karbi Anglong East Division forest. The herd munched 40 quintals of paddies kept in a 14′ by 15′ granary and demolished around one thousand prized tea bushes in his 2 hectare tea garden.

“All the forest department could offer me in my time of distress was some absurd piece of advice; who will look after the wild creatures? Certainly I am not the person, certainly I didn’t proposed him to keep the wild elephants roped,” the angry farmer said.

In another incident, a herd of 3 wild elephants destroyed 3 houses in Santitila under Khatkati police station yesterday night. The elephants savoured the entire amount of paddy stocked in the house of Raj Shah and Amar Jain. The herd entered Amar Jain’s rice mill by demolishing an RCC wall and pulled out a bundle of rice peelings mixed with broken rice.

After relishing the different kinds of fodder, the group simply demolished the house of Pradip Das. However, the wild elephants did not attack humans.

According to people in the locality, the herd ventured into Santitila from Lahorijan tea estate. In both incidents, the concerned officials of Forest department failed to respond.

“We know that wild elephants venture into human habitat for fodder. Because of massive deforestation there is shortage for these giants inside the skeletal forest but if such attack continues people may adopt foul means to kill the elephants. The department should plant banana saplings and other trees and grasses inside the natural habitat of elephant to supplement the food for the large animals,” said one of the local villagers of Santitila.

Sushanta Roy is a journalist in Assam, India, who photographs and writes about the people, animals and flora of Assam, and the things that affect them.