A 50-year-old Sunsari woman faces court charges for killing an elephant. The pachyderm died at Mina Bhujel's house in Panchayan nearly two months ago after she installed live wires around her granary. A week before the incident, the same elephant had eaten almost all her stored maize. Although officials at the DFO filed a case against her, they are sympathetic. "We feel sorry for the loss she suffered, but we have no choice," says DFO Shambhu Prasad Chaurasia. "If we let her go, there could be other incidents of elephant murders." Khama Bahadur Dahal, another farmer in Sunsari, also faced a similar trial after an elephant was electrocuted in his sugarcane field. He was released from police custody after paying bail of Rs 50,000.
Elephants that arrive in herds and raid their fields regularly plague locals in the district. They also suffer huge losses when the animals eat their grain storage. With no other recourse available to them, many have installed live wire devices to keep the marauders at bay. Those convicted of killing elephants have to pay between Rs 50,000 and Rs 100,000 or serve five to 15 years in prison according to the National Parks and Wildlife Conservation Act.