A man was trampled to death by an elephant shortly after a crowd provoked a herd outside a forest reserve in northeast India.
India is home to the world’s largest Asian elephant population, which are considered endangered because of their fast-dwindling habitat. The state of Assam, where this incident took place, has India’s second-highest population of wild elephants. Early this week, Indian Forest Service official Parveen Kaswan posted the video on Twitter with the caption, “A human lost his life. I wonder whom to blame.” It went instantly viral.
In the video, taken on July 25 at around 5 p.m., a herd of elephants is seen crossing the national highway outside a forest reserve as a crowd gathered on both sides of the road. There’s persistent honking of a vehicle, which seemed to aggravate the herd. One man in a purple shirt is seen teasing the elephants with a piece of yellow cloth. Finally, one elephant broke away from the herd and chased a man into a corner, stepping on him several times.
Forest authorities identified the casualty as Pachkal Mura. The 45-year-old man is seen in the video trying to run away from the elephant. He fell, and was then trampled on. Mura was rushed to a nearby hospital, but he died of his injuries at 9:30 p.m.
“All formalities have been completed, including post mortem. A formal report will be sent to the higher authorities soon,” a forest official told Assam Tribune.
Elephants are a national heritage animal in India and are protected under strict wildlife laws. However, as animal-human conflicts rise across the country, it has led to the loss of human lives. The latest Elephant Population Estimation showed that India has 27,312 elephants. Assam has 5,719 of them.
RK Srivastava, the director of Project Elephant, which conducted the census, has previously warned that habitat loss is forcing elephants to move into agricultural areas, leading to an increase in run-ins with people.
Recent data by the Minister of State for Environment showed that more than 2,300 Indians were killed by elephants between 2014 and 2019.
Last year, in southern India, a 15-year-old pregnant elephant died after it ate a firecracker, which exploded in its mouth. Stuffed in pineapple, the firecracker was a trap for wild boars but was also meant to ward off wild elephants. The video of the elephant dying of its injuries caused nationwide outrage and reignited the conversation about human-elephant conflict – a long-held issue in India.
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