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Report: Elephant kills woman, then returns to funeral to trample her

WWF: Up to 300 people per year in India estimated to be killed in conflicts with elephants
India elephant
Posted at 7:11 PM, Aug 17, 2022

The effects of climate change and expanding global populations have been a lingering concern for governments worldwide. Still, as communities expand, humans and wildlife begin to live dangerously close to one another.

The World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) reported that in India, it is estimated that up to 300 people per year are killed by human-elephant conflicts.

In June, India's PTI News Service reported that a 70-year-old woman in the central east Indian state of Odisha was killed by an elephant, only to have the same elephant reportedly return to her funeral to pull her body from a pyre and trample her again before fleeing, police said.

The woman, Maya Murmu, had been collecting water in her village in the morning when the wild elephant reportedly attacked her, according to Police Station Inspector Lopamudra Nayak. Authorities said the elephant had escaped from a wildlife sanctuary.

Murmu later died of her injuries in a hospital. Not long after, while family members were paying their last respects, the elephant returned and pulled the woman's body from the pyre and trampled it before running away.

In 2020 a farmer in India was killed after a herd of elephants reportedly attacked him in the early morning hours in the Parusarampuram village in central east India, the Hindu Times reported.

The 50-year-old man was in his fields working when a herd came and he was attacked.

The National Library of Medicine published an articleearlier that year on a phenomenon known as "crop-raiding" by Asian elephants. These incidents are when elephants seem to cross through farmlands looking for food and water while trampling crops and ruining them.

The fragmented landscape in eastern India is causing a reduction in natural habitats for these elephants leading to the lives of humans and elephants colliding dangerously.

The study authors wrote in the publication, "Within such shared landscapes, poaching, habitat loss and extent of human-elephant conflicts (HEC) affect survival and conservation of elephants. HEC are severe in South Asia with increasing attacks on humans, crop depredation and property damage. Such incidents reduce societal tolerance towards elephants and increase the risk of retaliation by local communities."

Duncan McNair, a founder of the organization Save The Asian Elephants told Newsweek, "Elephants are generally benign and passive," he said. "They don't rush out of nowhere to attack people that pose no threat to their safety, or babies or anything like that."

McNair said the incidents which show no provocation are surprising.

WWF says worry has arisen over human retaliation after communities see elephants become a dangerous nuisance. In 2001 more than 60 elephants were found dead in Northeast India and Sumatra, said to have been poisoned by farmers.