Sherpur villagers in fear of wild elephant attacks | The Daily Star
12:00 AM, January 12, 2013 / LAST MODIFIED: 12:00 AM, January 12, 2013

Sherpur villagers in fear of wild elephant attacks


A herd of wild elephants foraging near Panihata Hill at Nalitabari upazila of Sherpur district on last November 8. File Photo

Villagers of three upazilas under Sherpur district are passing sleepless nights as wild elephants have been coming down from adjacent Garo Hill areas and forests in search of food and attacking them for the last few days.
During the attacks, the elephants broke into earthen houses to reach food grains stored inside, ate fruits growing in orchards and trampled Boro seedbeds. A death and injuries occurred when the villagers came in the elephants' path.
An attack on Thursday left an indigenous woman, Nepanis Mrong, 25, dead; three people injured; and two houses destroyed in Uttor Hariakona village in Shreebordi upazila.
A day before, two people were injured and two houses destroyed in Noukuchi Banaipara village of Jhinaigati upazila. On Tuesday, another attack in Tarani and Baromari areas of Nalitabari upazila left several people injured and some 10 houses demolished.
Saheb Ali, resident of Tarani village and a union parishad member, said 10 to 12 elephants arrive at midnight and return before sunrise. “The animals no longer fear our torches and drum beats,” he said.
The villagers said about 20 years ago, some elephants came inside Bangladeshi territory from Meghalaya of India after crossing Bogai river near Panihata Hill in Nalitabari. The herd now numbers around 50.
The elephants could not return to India due to bordering fences, said Abdul Mannan Suhel, a community leader in Nalitabari.
He said destruction of elephant habitat due to increasing human settlement, illegal tree felling and earth filling of water bodies have been forcing the elephants into the localities.
Till date, over 50 people have died and over 100 others were injured in the attacks, said the district administration and forest department sources.
Government efforts to erect natural barriers and a 2010 conference comprising international wildlife experts on human-elephant coexistence have turned fruitless, he said.
Sherpur Deputy Commissioner Mohammad Zakir Hossain yesterday said the victims have been provided financial support.

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