Rajesh Rai | Phuentsholing

A herd of 15 elephants destroyed 2.7 acres of paddy crops belonging to three farmers in Norbugang, Samtse, on the night of November 22.

The farmers would have harvested and threshed the paddy in about 10 days.

One of the farmers, Khemraj Ghalley, said he has nothing left to harvest this year.

“I grew basmati as well. Everything has gone down the drain now,” he said, adding that he had invested a lot this year.

“I was expecting more than one metric tonne (MT) of rice this year. But I will have to buy it now.”

Another farmer, Rohit Uraon, said that about 15 to 20 elephants came to the paddy fields.

“They had been there in the fields recently but we didn’t expect their return,” he said, adding that the pachyderms returned when it was raining and cold, and people were at home.

Meanwhile, Rohit Uraon, who had taken the land on lease from Khemraj Ghalley, said he could salvage and harvest at least 30 percent of the paddy crop.

The fields are located near the highway.

Another farmer, who lost all his remaining paddy to the elephants, Mani Kumar Ghalley, said he had harvested some recently.

“Whatever was remaining has been totally trampled,” he said. “This time we had grown quality rice.”   

Elephants don’t usually visit Norbugang frequently because the gewog is densely populated. However, Daina is located near the border and far from human settlement.

Norbugang gewog administrative officer Kinley Dorji said they inspected the field yesterday.

“We are preparing a report, which will be submitted to the dzongkhag agriculture office. They will compensate as per their findings.”

Considering the porous border Samtse shares with Indian villages, elephants have always been a major burden to paddy growers. Of all affected places, Tashichholing is the most affected and with the loss of lives as well.