The clash between wild beast and human is a constant problem across South Asia, a reminder of the clash between nature and humanity owing to rampant population growth and loss of habitat.
The results of these confrontations are often fatal, to both man and beast.
But here’s a story that didn’t have a bloody ending. An elephant smashed a house in rural West Bengal on Monday night but turned back after hearing the cries of a 10-month-old baby crying under the debris of the destroyed dwelling.
According to the Times of India, the pachyderm then proceeded to clear away the rubble under which the infant was stuck before heading back to the forest.
Forest officers say the elephant has been responsible for killing at least three people in the past year. The baby’s mother Lalita Mahato told the Times of India: “We worship Lord Ganesh (the elephant god) in our village. Still, I can’t believe that the tusker saved my daughter after breaking down the door and smashing a wall. We watched amazed as it gently removed the debris that had fallen on her. It’s a miracle.”
The child’s father, Dipak Mahato, said they were having dinner around 8pm when they suddenly heard a “cracking sound” and then a huge crash from the bedroom.
“We ran over and were shocked to see the wall in pieces and a tusker standing over our baby. She was crying and there were huge chunks of the wall lying all around and on the cot,” he said. “The tusker started moving away but when our child started crying again, it returned and used its trunk to remove the debris.”
The little girl was later taken to a nearby hospital and treated for cuts and bruises.
The conflict between man and elephant in West Bengal is reportedly the result of increased cultivation and development of the land long used by elephants as a migratory route.