Three people died over the last two months
A sexagenarian was killed in an attack by a wild elephant in Tailerdwip area under Anwara upazila of Chittagong early Sunday.
The deceased was Abdul Motaleb, 68.
With the inclusion of this latest incident, the death toll due to marauding elephants’ attacks in Anwara upazila over the last two months has now risen to three.
“The elderly man went to the mosque to offer his Fajr prayers early in the morning. On his way back home, the rampaging elephant attacked him. Critically injured, he was rushed to Chittagong Medical College Hospital (CMCH),” said Dulal Mahmud, officer-in-charge of Anwara police station.
Assistant sub-inspector (ASI)I Alauddin Talukder of CMCH police outpost said that Motaleb succumbed to his injuries while undergoing treatment at the hospital around 11:30am on Sunday.
Sheikh Jobaer Ahmed, Upazila Nirbahi Officer (UNO) of Anwara, told the Dhaka Tribune that a herd of three elephants wandered away from Banshkhali area, and are now on a rampage at Anwara.
“A total of 10 Elephant Response Teams (ERTs) have been formed to mitigate human-elephant conflict in the area, but to little avail,” said the UNO.
Speaking to the Dhaka Tribune, Abu Naser Md Yasin Newaz, Chittagong Divisional forest officer (DFO) of Wildlife Management and Nature Conservation Division, said that the wild elephants in Anwara area had killed three people and injured several others since June of this year.
“Anwara area is a route for elephants’ movements.Human habitation and development projects like economic zones have destroyed the route. Behaviorally, elephants always follow their traditional routes for regular movement. If they find any obstacle in their way, they try to destroy it,” explained the DFO.
Speaking to the Dhaka Tribune, eminent wildlife conservationist Dr Reza Khan said that shortage of food and lack of sufficient foraging ground in the forest could be broadly attributed to the recent rise in human-elephant conflicts in the country.
“A study shows that elephants naturally browse on at least 50 species of plants, including wild bananas, bamboo, grasses and reeds, climbers, lianas, etc. Besides, they eat fruits of over a dozen trees. Due to deforestation and changing patterns in forestry, there is a severe shortage of natural food for the elephants and many other forest-dwelling animals,” said Dr Khan.
“To reduce human-elephant conflicts, the government must ensure that sufficient food is available inside the forest. This should include creating summer-season crops that will keep the elephants inside forests, creating salt and mineral peat deep inside the forest and far away from human habitation, and sufficient supply of fresh water during lean months in the form of ponds holding rainwater,” added the wildlife expert.