In India, an elephant found a man hiding in a bush and attacked him by tossing him into the air with its trunk. Swastik Pritam, an official with the Wildlife Institute of India, was taking photos of an elephant herd in a forest in Jharkhand. This was when he and his three colleagues were attacked, Newsweek reports.
One bull in the herd of 11 spotted them taking photos and became aggravated, Forest Range Officer Rahul Kumar told local news outlet Outlook India. 25-year-old Pritam’s colleagues fled the scene as the elephant became more agitated, while Pritam himself hid in a nearby bush. According to Kumar, the bull then charged Pritam and lifted him up with its trunk.
The animal then threw the man on the ground, causing severe neck and shoulder injuries. Gentle giants they might be–but elephants will attack humans if they feel cornered or their territory is being invaded. Pritam was immediately transported to a hospital close by and is now resting safely, Outlook India reported.
The man and his work colleagues were assessing the forest to see if they could construct a new railway. Apparently, they needed to be on the lookout for any wildlife that might obstruct their plans, as per the news outlet’s report. Nazir Akthar, a sub-divisional police officer in Barhi, told Outlook India that the survey team had gotten close to the herd without notifying Forest authorities.
Conflicts between humans and elephants are a growing concern in India
A burgeoning global population has resulted in the decrease of Indian elephants in the wild. As few as 20,000 remain. The loss of habitat has been the leading cause of human-elephant conflict in India for years. With more people and development projects, habitats are quickly disappearing, which leaves little room for both people and wildlife. In search of food and water, elephants often stray onto farmlands and ruin crops, a problem exacerbated by fragmented habitats.
After a group of villagers killed a one-year-old elephant calf in the state of Chhattisgarh, elephants from the same herd stomped a man to death in October. As the climate continues to change, elephants are finding it increasingly difficult to find water sources. This causes them to compete with humans for resources.
Duncan McNair, a lawyer and the founder and CEO of the charity Save The Asian Elephants, elaborated on the growing issue. “Elephants are immensely intelligent,” McNair recently told Newsweek. “Their brains weigh 10 pounds or more and have complex surface folds and a highly developed hippocampus, which enables profound emotions of grief, compassion, humor, role-playing, and anger. So, while they are a gentle and recessive species, if roused by threats or attacks, they can be deadly.”
The Indian elephant has been on the IUCN Red List since 1986 as an endangered species. Its wild population has decreased by 50% since the 1940s.