A father of three died on the spot after an elephant trampled and gored him in the forest near the Gelephu airport at around 6.30am yesterday.
The deceased was walking with two other men to a neighbouring village to perform a ritual.
Sources said that they were walking through a thick forest in Chokhorling under Samtenling gewog when suddenly they encountered the elephant. “It charged at them.”
Dechenpelri Tshogpa Karma Tenzin, who visited the site, said that the three have tried to flee but the deceased fell to the ground.
“The elephant then trampled and gored him multiple times killing him on the spot,” he said.
Villagers later found him lying face down and motionless. He sustained injuries to the right waist, limbs, and stomach.
The 38-year-old retired monk lived in Jigmechoeling and is survived by his wife and four children.
Chief Forestry Officer of the Divisional Forest Office in Sarpang, Phub Dhendup said that the incident could have been avoided by not walking through that place at such early hours. “We have been advocating the people to avoid walking during dawn, dusk and late nights in the areas frequented by the elephants.”
Phub Dhendup said that foresters shot blank fires to ensure safety while approaching the spot after they heard some noise indicating the presence of the elephant nearby.
The divisional forest office has also recommended all private landowners to clear bushes on their land which elephants could use as cover.
Tshogpa Karma Tenzin said that there are private lands in the area which have not been cleared for a long time and have now become a thick forest.
“There is no way people could escape if they encounter dangerous animals like elephants,” he said.
He said the Dzongkhag Tshogdu discussed the issue of bush-clearing on private lands but could not be implemented. “Since landowners can pay land taxes online, there is not much the local government can do. Earlier we could ask them when they came to pay taxes,” the tshogpa said.
He said the elephant menace in the area is never-ending. The measures they adopted did not work. “They destroy crops and kill people. It never stops.”