Rajesh Rai | Tashichholing

The death of a woman in Maneydara village from an elephant attack in Tashichholing , Samtse did not come as a surprise to villagers.

The village had been experiencing elephant attack both on crops, properties and even on villagers. The woman, 69,  was trampled to death on the morning of December 5 at Maneydara village.

The incident has brought back the issue of battling elephant attacks in Tashichholing.

A resident of Tashichholing, Bishnu Sharma said this problem was not the first one that happened. “Elephants have killed before as well,” she said. “But nothing has been done so far.”

Bishnu Sharma and about 10 friends had appealed to the relevant authorities requesting for some measures. There was no response, she said.

She said without the protection from the elephants, their land had remained fallow.

“We have land but elephant problems made it difficult to work,” she said.

If government starts some industries at Saansbotey, it will automatically stop the elephant encroachment, Bishnu Sharma said. The number of people and activities will increase, she added.

BP Dahl, another Tashichholing resident, said people are of the opinion that the government has carried out protection measures, but there has not been any permanent solution to this growing problem.

“Farmers can hardly protect their crops,” he said.

Tashichholing gup Samir Giri said that they have all failed.

“As a leader at the grassroots level, our basic duty is to provide safety and security which we have failed,” he said.

The gup also said he has been experiencing the elephant problem at Tashichholing on a daily basis. “How can we address the rural-urban migration?”

The gup also said that every time some youth wanted to lease a land at Tashichholing, they left before availing the land because of the existing problem. Government provides hybrid seeds and saplings, including machineries, but they are of no use when the conflict with the elephants is not resolved, Samir Giri said.

“Self-sufficiency would not happen like this,” he said, adding that the ground reality is entirely different.

Today, there are more than 600 acres of fallow land in Tashichholing and most are vast stretches of paddy fields. Due to the increasing fallow land turning into thickets, the problems has aggravated in the recent years as elephants hid under these bushes.

Land owners of Tashichholing clear the bushes.

Meanwhile, the 69-year-old woman of Maneytar died on the spot. Villagers said there were few students around the house and they escaped when they saw the elephant charging. However, the victim was out of the house.

An elephant coming up to Maneytar is a rare incident, said villagers.

Although forest officials and the villagers were able to chase the elephant away, many shared dangerous encounters with the elephant.

A contractor, Tashi, said the elephant had come at his site near a stream from where his team was dredging boulders using an excavator.

“I thought for a moment we were dead,” he said. “The machine operator was inside the machine when the elephant came charging.”

The machine operator said that the elephant came so close to the machine that it smacked on the excavator bucket. Villagers said elephants usually would not appear at Maneydara, a place located on higher grounds, compared to lower regions of Tashichholing.

A  man was also killed by an elephant in Tashichholing in 2012.