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Villages on India-Nepal Border in Bihar Live in Fear as Elephant Attacks Claim Lives and Destroy Property

tanzil asif Reported By Tanzil Asif |
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In the Seemanchal region of Bihar, several villages in the Kishanganj district, situated on the India-Nepal border, are reeling under the constant threat of elephant attacks. Over the past five years, these attacks have claimed the lives of five villagers and resulted in significant property damage, including the destruction of houses and maize crops.

Recent incidents in the Thakurganj and Dighalbank blocks of Kishanganj district have intensified concerns regarding the safety of residents. In 2023 alone, two villagers, including a woman, were tragically killed by elephants. Among the worst affected areas is the Dhantola panchayat in the Dighalbank block.

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Elephant Attack Ravages Khosi Tola Village

On the midnight of March 10, 2022, a herd of seven elephants infiltrated Khosi Tola village within the Dhantola panchayat. The elephants left a trail of destruction, demolishing houses and trampling upon everything in their path. Tragically, an elderly woman named Rati Sridevi Rajvanshi, who was sleeping in a thatched house, fell victim to the relentless assault.

Narrating the horrifying incident, Rati’s daughter-in-law Varti Devi expressed their grief, saying, “She was sleeping inside the house when the elephants came, pulled down the roof, and killed her.” The incident took place at approximately 11:30 pm, leaving the entire village in shock.

The Rampage Continues in Pipla Village

Another incident occurred on February 2, 2023, when a herd of elephants stormed Pipla village, also located in the Dhantola panchayat. Chaos ensued as the villagers found themselves at the mercy of these mighty creatures. Tragically, 53-year-old Mursheeda Khatoon became a victim of their rampage when the elephants threw her in the air, trampled her, and caused fatal injuries.

“The elephants came here and did this,” Mursheeda’s son Matiur Rahman recounted. “They dragged her away from the door and trampled on her.” The attack occurred around 1 o’clock in the night, catching the villagers off guard as they desperately sought safety.

Reflecting on the ordeal, Rahman shared, “We were all asleep outside the house when the elephants came here. We rushed inside, but we forgot my mother outside.” The elephants targeted the area where the victim was located, leaving her helpless.

He continued, “They picked her up in the air and threw her down to the ground. They crushed her with their legs.” Tragically, the victim succumbed to a broken spinal cord and extensive leg injuries.

In Dhantola, a panchayat ward member named Manmohan Singh revealed that a series of tragic deaths have occurred as a result of rampaging elephants. Singh shared that three fatalities have taken place in Dhantola panchayat alone, highlighting the urgency of addressing this issue.

Widespread Destruction of Houses and Crops

The devastating impact of the elephants extends beyond the loss of lives. Villagers in Dhantola have suffered significant damage to their houses and crops. These massive creatures have wreaked havoc as they trample through the fields and residential areas, leaving a trail of destruction in their wake. The villagers are grappling with the aftermath of ruined homes and decimated agricultural resources.

On the 19th of March, a horrifying incident occurred in Mahamari, Giritola. Meena Devi was sleeping in her sturdy house along with her daughter. An elephant entered the village, traversing through the banana farms, and proceeded to wreak havoc on Devi’s house. The iron window, bed, and other belongings were destroyed, while the stored foodgrains suffered damage as well.

villagers affected by elephant attack

Miraculously, no injuries were reported. Devi acted swiftly, evacuating her daughter and elderly mother-in-law from the danger zone. Despite their narrow escape, the psychological trauma inflicted upon the affected families lingers. The fear of future encounters with these powerful creatures looms large, impacting the mental well-being of the villagers.

On the night of March 20th, a herd of elephants made its way into the courtyard of Damodar Shah, a resident of Khasi Tola. The elephants’ rampage resulted in the destruction of the maize crops on Damodar Shah’s farm. Additionally, they wreaked havoc inside Shah’s residence, breaking a portion of their thatched house. The elephants also damaged stored flour and rice. Damodar Shah’s brother had also experienced a similar incident last year.

“With everyone else, I left the house and went out on the street. Meanwhile, the elephants came here and started entering the courtyard. I tried to light a fire in the courtyard but the matchsticks didn’t light due to wind. I could not light a fire and banged tin sheets instead. Due to the banging of tin, the elephant began retreating and breaking the roof with its trunk”, narrated Damodar.

6th March was the site of a joyous wedding celebration at the residence of Tej Narayan Pandey. However, just a day before the auspicious event, chaos ensued when a herd of elephants launched a destructive attack, causing extensive damage to the arrangements made for the feast. This was not an isolated incident, as Tej Narayan Pandey’s house has been repeatedly targeted by elephants in the past.

Tej Narayan Pandey described the horrifying encounters with the elephants, stating, “At least 4 times” when asked about the frequency of the attacks. When questioned about the damages caused by the elephants, Tej Narayan Pandey revealed that they broke everything in sight and looted essential food supplies, including rice, pulses, and sugar. The elephants even made off with six sacks of rice, exacerbating the impact on the wedding preparations. Their destructive tendencies extended to the kitchen, where utensils and drums were strewn about, and even puffed rice was consumed.

A herd of elephants recently caused extensive damage to the crops on the 3 kattha of land belonging to farmer Noor-ul-Islam, a resident of Panchgachhi. The incident has left local farmers grappling with significant losses and the constant threat of further damage.

Noor-ul-Islam, who had just reaped his Maize crop, is now forced to use the damaged produce as feed for his livestock. When asked about the extent of the damage, he stated, “Approximately 2.5-3 kattha of my land was affected. They entered the field and left the same way, devastating everything in their path.”

The elephants responsible for the destruction were reported to be a group of four. The incident occurred during the night, with Noor-ul-Islam witnessing the elephants firsthand. “I saw them from here, by climbing atop a vehicle. I could hear them trumpeting throughout the night,” he shared.

Manjula Devi, a resident who closely monitors the elephants from her terrace, expressed her concern. “I can see 13 elephants at a short distance, on the other side of the Nepal border. Counting them has left me shaken,” she said. The constant fear of elephant invasions has compelled the villagers to stay awake at night, unable to sleep peacefully.

Various Tactics to Scare Away the Elephants

Residents have devised various tactics to scare away the elephants and protect their homes and farms. Damodar constructed a makeshift ladder using bamboo, enabling him to keep a watchful eye on the approaching elephants with the aid of a torch. “We light fires and stay up all night. We have nothing else to keep an eye on them. Elephants enter our houses during power cuts,” Damodar explained.

When the elephants come close to the village, the residents attempt to send them away by burning tires or hay sticks. These measures, although temporary, have proven helpful in deterring the elephants from advancing further into the village.

The villagers also resort to hoisting white polythene outside their houses as a precautionary measure. Noor-ul-Islam, however, believes it is merely an act of self-satisfaction. “It doesn’t serve any purpose. We hope it might deter the elephants from entering our homes,” he commented.

Noor-ul-Islam further explained that the plastic sheets and illuminated bulbs are only effective when there is a power supply. Despite this, the villagers continue to implement these methods as they strive to safeguard their properties and keep the elephants at bay.

Solar-Powered Aniders

In response to the increasing problem of human-elephant conflicts, the local administration has recently installed five solar-powered Animal Intrusion Detection and Repellent Systems (aniders) in Doria village. These innovative devices are designed to detect the presence of wild animals and emit loud sounds and lights to deter them from entering residential areas. The deployment of aniders aims to protect both humans and animals from harm and mitigate the damage caused by such conflicts.

Anider devices operate on a solar panel system and use sensors to detect the presence of various wild animals, including elephants, cows, tigers, and lions. When an animal is detected, the device activates siren-like sounds and bright lights, effectively scaring away the intruders. This approach offers a non-lethal and safe solution to prevent animals from encroaching on residential areas without causing harm to them or the farmers.


Gaya Prasad Singh, a resident of Doria, acknowledged the effectiveness of the aniders in redirecting elephant herds away from their village. He stated, “After the installation of these machines, elephants started taking alternative routes and haven’t entered our village since. However, currently, only two out of the five machines are operational due to broken wires caused by improper installation during field plowing.”

Unfortunately, the solar-powered aniders face some limitations, particularly during the rainy season. As per Gaya Prasad Singh, the devices do not function properly on rainy days as the solar panels cannot recharge without sunlight. Last year, when heavy rain and overcast skies persisted, the elephants managed to break one of the anider devices due to its failure to emit the required siren.

Discrepancies in the Compensation Distribution

Thakurganj MLA Saud Alam raised the issue in the assembly. He highlighted the incidents of human casualties, destruction of houses, and damage to crops caused by the elephant herds from Nepal in the Dighalbank and Thakurganj blocks of Kishanganj.

Responding to MLA Saud Alam’s concerns, Tej Pratap Yadav, the State Minister for Environment, Forest, and Climate Change, informed that approvals have been granted to install a total of 240 aniders in the fiscal year 2022-23. The installation process for these additional devices is currently underway.

Furthermore, Minister Yadav mentioned that provision has been made for compensating individuals affected by wild elephant attacks, including compensation for loss of human lives, livestock, and damage to houses and crops. In the current fiscal year, an amount of Rs. 9,25,100 has been disbursed to the Araria Divisional Forest Officer for distribution to affected families and the next of kin.

However, discrepancies in the compensation distribution process have been reported by some villagers. Varti Devi, who received compensation of Rs 5 lakh for the death of her mother-in-law and Rs 12,000 for house damage, shared her experience. Conversely, Murshida Khatoon’s family did not allow a post-mortem, resulting in a reduced compensation amount of only Rs 10,000.

Malik, another villager, expressed his dissatisfaction with the compensation process, stating that he has not received any compensation for the damage caused to his crops by elephants the previous year. He described the confusion surrounding the application process and changing requirements, leading to the denial of compensation.

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Tanzil Asif is a multimedia journalist-cum-entrepreneur. He is the founder and the CEO of Main Media. He occasionally writes stories from Seemanchal for other publications as well. Hence, he has bylines in The Wire, The Quint, Outlook Magazine, Two Circles, the Milli Gazette etc. Tanzil is one of six Indian journalists selected by YouTube in 2021 for its Creator Program for Independent Journalists. He is also a Josh Talks speaker, an Engineer and a part-time poet.

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