Chhattisgarh Elephant Crisis, Herd Enters Korba City
On December 26, 2018, the ongoing human-elephant conflict crisis in Chhattisgarh reached a boiling point when a herd of elephants entered Korba city.
Photo: Amit Kher
While the Korba Forest Division has seen elephant presence for the past 18 years, this is the first time that the animals entered the city. Their arrival preceded a scene of mayhem, with residents of Korba crowding the streets to get a glimpse of the herd of four. While three of the elephants remained close to the SECL Helipad, a tusker got separated from them. The confused animal ran down a crowded street causing panic.
The crowds hindered the work of the state police force and forest department, forcing the police to invoke Section 144 of the Criminal Procedure Code that prohibits the assembly of more than four persons in an area. Despite their warnings, a young boy approached the herd and was attacked. His life was saved by policeman Gledwin Kumar who rescued him and took him to a hospital. Because of the collapse in law and order, it took the two state departments 24 hours to direct the herd back into the forest.
The Sanctuary Nature Foundation has been documenting the human-elephant conflict crisis in Chhattisgarh through activist Sajal Madhu, and lobbying the state and central government to enact interventions to stop further loss of life and property. "The reaction of the state police and forest department has been heroic. However, they are unequipped to handle a wildlife conflict of this scale. Dozens of humans and elephants have already died in Chhattisgarh, and urgent scientific interventions are required to mitigate the conflict. We have alerted Project Elephant, the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change, and the Chhattisgarh state government to the issue but their response has been inadequate," said Cara Tejpal, head of the Mud on Boots Project.
Sajal Madhu is a Project Leader under Sanctuary’s Mud on Boots Project, a booster programme designed to identify and empower grassroots conservationists in India.