13-yr-old tribal girl helps drive out wild elephants

Amazing feat

13-yr-old tribal girl helps drive out wild elephants

A 13-year-old tribal girl had played an important role in driving out a herd of wild elephants who had recently raided the Odisha steel township of Rourkela in tribal-dominated Sundergarh district.

The incident unleashed a reign of terror in the town for more than 24 hours after the animals entered a local stadium. The girl, Nirmala Toppo, a native of a tribal village on the Odisha-Jharkhand border was part of a group of tribals who had been recruited by the local administration in Rourkela to help the forest and police personnel to push the pachyderms into the forests. The tribals have the expertise in driving out the invading wild elephant herds from human habitats.

According to a report from Rourkela, the manner in which Nirmala, a class X student, directed the elephant herd consisting of both male and female as well as baby pachyderms in Munda (her tribal language) to go back to the nearest forest from where they had come hugely impressed both the officials and local residents. The elephants listened to her as if they understood the language.

She said that the wild elephants are quite acquainted with the Munda language the local tribals speak. Hence, the animals understand and listen to them.

Nirmala who belongs to Sealjor village in Jharkhand maintained that she learnt the trick to handle the wild elephants from her father at the age of seven. Since then she has been a regular at the job. Her village is frequently raided by the pachyderms like several other villages on both sides of the border of Odisha and Jharkhand.

Experts feel that wild elephants have been frequently invading villages near the forests as their habitats are being encroached upon because of different human activities like mining and the cutting of trees. 

According to Nirmala, at least on the Odisha-Jharkhand border, the elephant menace is due to frequent gun battles between the security forces and the Maoists operating in the area which scares the pachyderms.

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