This is an elephant in the room for Odisha. One Human life gets lost every 4-day in the State due to man-elephant faceoff. The result is the State sits at the top in the country in the number of human lives lost to elephant attacks.
Sample the following.
- A 47-year-old man was killed following an attack by a wild elephant herd in Bolangir district in February last year.
- 4 persons were trampled by an elephant in Odisha’s Bargarh and Bolangir districts in April last year
- A 55-year-old man was trampled to death by elephants in Mayurbhanj district
- A 47-year-old man was killed in the Sambalpur district.
These are samples of a handful of cases of man-jumbo conflict in Odisha. Data shows a whopping 93 lives were lost in the State in 2020-21 and 97 in 2021-22. The State has been maintaining a trend or recording the highest human causality in the country for the last three consecutive years. The human toll in 2019-20 was 117.
Odisha In Conflict Map
A glance at the data available with the Union Forest and Environment Ministry shows that Odisha is the only State to record a nearly 50 percent (47%) jump in deaths due to man-elephant conflict during the last 5 years. The human deaths in 2016-17 were 66.
A comparative data with high elephant density states like Assam, Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand and Karnataka reveals that human deaths due to elephant attacks have been stabilised in all states, except Jharkhand.
But the toll in Jharkhand during the last five years was up by 25 percent as against 47 percent in Odisha. This shows the enormity is acute in the State.
Districts Under Jumbo Shadow
As per the data available, last year maximum casualty had been recorded in the Bolangir district. It is followed by Mayurbhanj, Keonjhar, Sundargarh, Sambalpur and Balasore. The data further added that deaths were reported in the same Blocks and villages every year, which hints at the problem of recurring nature and lack of any preventive measures to date.
The Jumbo Solution
As per the Wildlife Trust of India (WTI), there is a permanent solution to such conflicts. It says State Agriculture Department can intervene in crop-growing patterns in the villages that come along or on the elephant corridor routes.
"Either farmers there may be persuaded to change the crops sown from paddy to cash crops like chilli and ginger or cultivate a bio-fence (made of thorny plants or growing beehives) by way of building up what is called a ‘living perimeter’ around the paddy crops to keep the big mammal at bay."