30 October, 2020

Life On Ivory Coast

Elephants with a taste for the good life return to wreck tribal homes in Dumka

Swapan Nayak
Life On Ivory Coast
outlookindia.com
-0001-11-30T00:00:00+05:53
Urmila Devi will never forget the moonless, chilly night two months ago when the elephants came visiting her mud-and-thatch home in Dumka's Jora Alam village. The twentysomething tribal girl was in labour, with a midwife attending to her. Her husband, Shravan Rai, and father-in-law Hiralal stood guard near the door. Close to midnight, she heard the angry herd trumpeting and descending on the village. Even as Urmila lay on the bed quaking in fear and her midwife cowered in a corner, Shravan climbed the family's tree-top home with their two-year-old baby girl. "Run, run!", he shouted. Hiralal, however, stood guard at the door, brandishing a flaming torch and a stick to keep the rampaging tuskers at bay. Even as the tuskers kept circling the hut, scared by Hiralal's torch and stick, Urmila gave birth to a second baby girl. Her husband and child watched the whole drama from their tree-top home.

A nightmare without end for the people of Dumka, it's the familiar though tragic tale of the man-animal conflict—hungry, lost elephants descending on villages, destroying property,...
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