India – Elephant kills 70-year-woman and then returns to trample her corpse at funeral

I Odisha state, eastern India. A 70-year-old woman named Maya Murmu was drawing water at a tube well in the village of Raipal when a wild elephant, which had strayed from the Dalma wildlife sanctuary nearly 200km away, appeared unexpectedly. The elephant attacked and trampled Ms. Murmu, causing serious injuries. She was taken to the hospital but unfortunately succumbed to her injuries.

The shocking and unusual aspect of the incident was that during Ms. Murmu’s funeral, when her family was performing the last rites, the same elephant returned to the scene. It lifted Ms. Murmu’s body from the funeral pyre and trampled it again in front of the mourning family members. The family could only proceed with the funeral after the elephant left. The report doesn’t clarify if the elephant harmed anyone else during this second encounter.

The incident highlights the ongoing conflicts between elephants and humans in the region. Odisha faces challenges due to intensive industrial activities encroaching upon animal habitats, leading to increased interactions between villagers and elephants. This has resulted in various incidents of human-elephant conflicts, and the situation is exacerbated by the unnatural deaths of elephants in the state. The data provided indicates a concerning trend, with a significant number of elephant deaths in Odisha since 2000-01, attributed to various factors such as habitat loss, human encroachment, and other conflicts.

The story also briefly mentions similar incidents from other parts of the country, emphasizing that human-elephant conflicts are not limited to a specific region and are a widespread concern in India. These conflicts pose challenges for both human communities and wildlife authorities in finding sustainable solutions to minimize such incidents and ensure the coexistence of humans and elephants.

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