It is that time of the year that people in Sarpang dread every year. Besides roadblocks and flash floods, people are as worried about the frequent elephant rampages.

Herds of elephants have already entered villages in the dzongkhag, causing damage to crops and properties.

On August 6, a herd of 16 elephants reportedly damaged more than 500 areca nut trees in two chiwogs of Umling gewog.

Forest officials in Umling range office say the same herd trampled over 1.15 acres of transplanted paddy.

Forester, Ugyen Dorji, said, it took them almost eight hours to chase away the elephants from the village. “We’ve to be careful not to chase them from the electric fenced area,” he said. “Coming in contact with electric fencing and its shock will make the elephants violent.”

Last month, another herd of elephants entered the villages in Umling and killed a cow and three calves. The cattle were killed after one of the elephant calves fell into a concrete hole. When the mother could not rescue the trapped calf, it became violent and killed animals that were nearby.

Forest officials rescued the trapped calf.

The same herd is also reported to have entered the villages of Shershong gewog and fell several areca nut trees and trampled over the paddy fields.  It also damaged cultivated fields in Chuzargang.

Chuzargang gewog agriculture officer, Tashi Dawa, said electric fencing is useful in deterring elephants and wild boars but if they enter from an opening, it’s difficult to chase them out.

Last month, a herd of elephant damaged a mill house in Gelephu, ate the grain stock and trampled over a maize field. Last week, a lone elephant partially damaged a portion of a cottage’s wall and window in Sompangkha.

The elephant also broke the house owner’s biogas tank adjacent to the house.

Gewog officials say people report to the gewog office, which then submits a report to the forest office every time there is an elephant rampage. Range officers in Gelephu said there are about four herds of elephant that are rampaging villages in Sarpang.

Nirmala Pokhrel | Tsirang