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Families Live on Trees due to the Terror of rampaging Elephants in Jharkhand

The number of elephants in the state has increased from 624 in 2007 to 688 in 2012

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Herd of elephants. Pixabay
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Ranchi, Nov 30, 2016: At least four families have been forced to live on trees because of the terror of rampaging elephants near Ranchi, the capital city in Jharkhand.

A herd of elephants has created fear among the people living in villages near Ranchi as well as those travelling along the Ranchi- Jamshedpur National Highway.

The highway remains deserted for hours due to the fear of the wandering elephants.

Some families living in Loharatola village in Bundu, around 45 km from Ranchi, have made makeshift perches on trees. They sleep on trees to protect themselves from elephants.

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A herd of elephants damaged their houses last year. The families left their village and have been living through fields as they have agricultural land.

“During the daytime, we are involved in farming activities. The children collect small pieces of bricks for pelting at the elephants,” said Janki Munda, head of a family which lives on trees.

There are more than 15 families in the village and all depend on farming for their livelihood.

The village lacks basic facilities, exposing the tall claims made by the state government about development work in Jharkhand.

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“We are left to fend ourselves. We eke out living by cultivating our farms. We have no other option for making our living. We live in the fear of elephants and have made makeshift shelters on trees,” said Parikshit Lohra.

Jharkhand has been witnessing large-scale devastation by rampaging elephants.

Herds of elephants damage standing crops, houses and kill people. More than 1,000 people have been killed by elephants in Jharkhand since the state was carved out of Bihar in November 2000.

The number of elephants in the state has increased from 624 in 2007 to 688 in 2012.

At least 154 elephants have lost their lives in the state for various reasons, including electrocution, being run over by trains and because they consumed poisonous substances.

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According to experts, human habitats developed on the elephant corridor have been causing conflict.

“We will immediately send a team of senior officials and all possible help will be extended to the families living on trees,” Sukhdeo Singh, Jharkhand Forest and Environment Secretary, told IANS.

“We are working on short- and long-term plans to minimise the conflict between humans and elephants,” he added. (IANS)

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A Study of Africa’s Bush Elephants

African elephants are known to love bathing, spraying and mud-wallowing.

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African bush elephants
Orphaned baby elephants are seen after being bottle-fed, at the David Sheldrick Elephant Orphanage near Nairobi, Kenya. VOA

A study of the African bush elephant’s vast network of deep wrinkles has found it is intricately designed to help the elephants keep their cool, fight off parasites and defend against sun damage, scientists said on Tuesday.

The fine pattern of millions of channels means the elephant’s skin can retain five to 10 times more water than a flat surface, the scientists said.

The research, conducted by scientists at Switzerland’s University of Geneva and the Swiss Institute of Bioinformatics, was published in the journal Nature Communications on Tuesday.

African bush elephants
San Diego Zoo, October. Flickr

“Because of their huge body size, and their warm and dry habitat, African elephants can avoid over-heating only by losing calories through evaporation of the water they collect in and on their skin,” researchers wrote.

The scientists found that elephant skin channels are not just folds or wrinkles, but actual fractures in the animal’s brittle outermost layer of skin. The skin grows on a tiny lattice framework, they said, causing it to fracture under mechanical stress when the animals move.

Also Read: Wildlife At Risk Due to Mass Tourism: Biologits

African elephants are known to love bathing, spraying and mud-wallowing, and since they have no sweat and sebum glands to keep their skin moist and supple, the tiny crevices trap and hold on to water and mud, helping to regulate body temperature.

They also form a barrier against bugs and solar radiation. (VOA)