A critically injured elephant, hit by a train, in West Bengal’s Dooars was seen with most of the flesh from its legs torn off and struggling to get on its feet. This happened on September 27, 2019, while this endangered and social animal was crossing railway tracks from one part of the forest to another. This is the inherent natural behaviour of this animal. In this month alone, seven elephants were killed when a herd of 40-50 elephants started to cross the railway track. This happens almost every month in different parts of India.
During my visit to Chandil in Jharkhand during November 2018, I witnessed preventive measures coined by poor farmers to protect their crops from elephants’ raid. When farmers are informed about the intrusion of elephants on their crop fields, they make ready on trees with burning cloths and crackers and throw them at elephants so that they panic and run back to the forest. In addition to this, they also make fences at the entry point to villages with electricity flowing through them, particularly during night time. Despite these preventive measures, human and elephant are often injured and reportedly killed in retaliation. Torturing elephants is, according to villagers, largely justified on the basis of damaged crops leading to the suffering of the poor farmers who are dependent on these crops to sustain their livelihood. Similarly, the death of elephants hit by trains is justified in the name of human development.
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