A 70-year-old woman was trampled to death while collecting water near her village. The incident occurred in the district of Mayurbhanj, India where animal-human conflict is on the rise.
According to the Press Trust of India, the elephant strayed from the Dalma Wildlife Sanctuary approximately 200 km from the woman’s village. The animal’s habitat is shrinking due to illegal deforestation in the wildlife reserve.
After the elephant trampled the elderly woman she was rushed to the hospital but died shortly after. That evening, while the family performed her last rites at the funeral pyre, the same elephant returned. The elephant picked up Maya Murmu’s body, trampled on it and then threw it away.
The horrified group of mourners fled the scene for several hours waiting for the elephant to depart. They later returned to finish her last rites.
In India, over 100 people are killed by elephants each year, many are trampled. Approximately 500 people are killed by elephant attacks internationally according to a National Geographic documentary.
As the world’s largest vegetarian, elephants rarely attack other animals for food, however, tales of elephants intentionally killing humans are on the rise. Research suggests this could be in response from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) from negative personal experiences of violence at the hands of humans.
Elephants in India are killed not just in retaliation for human deaths but also by farmers for damaging crops. As deforestation continues in India conflicts like these will continue to increase.