In a deeply unfortunate incident in Mokokchung, a man lost his life while another was critically injured during a terrifying encounter with wild elephants on Saturday night, 26 August, at around 8 o’clock in the Changki valley known as Ingtsü, according to official reports.
Lanu Walling, an Assistant Sub-Inspector (ASI) from Mangkolemba, recounted that the incident unfolded approximately 8 kilometers away from the nearest highway. Local farmers were alarmed when wild elephants were spotted in their fields on Saturday evening. The elephants reportedly destroyed huts and crops, raising concerns among the farmers who promptly reported the situation to the village authorities.
Responding to the urgent distress call, village authorities dispatched a team of five individuals to assess the situation. Tragically, while on their way, they encountered the elephants where one of the members lost his life on the spot, while another sustained critical injuries. A third member suffered minor injuries. The critically injured person has since been transported to Dimapur for medical attention. The deceased has been identified as Wadanglemba, a member of the Changki village council.
T Lankonsen Tsanglao, the Additional Deputy Commissioner (ADC) of Mangkolemba, visited the village the following day. He confirmed that they were alerted about the incident around 8 o’clock and received confirmation from the Changki village council chairman.
“Talking to several villagers, I learned that previous elephant sightings had been rumored but remained unconfirmed. However, in this incident, villagers reported encountering two elephants, with speculation that there might be up to ten in the jungle, away from the fields,” he told Mokokchung Times.
Tokaho H Kinimi, an Indian Forest Service (IFS) officer and the Wildlife Warden of Wildlife Division Dimapur, also arrived in the village from Dimapur on Sunday to meet with the victim’s family and to understand the incident.
Speaking on the incident, Kinimi said, “We were quite taken by surprise because we were not informed before that elephants were there and doing this. The villagers also didn’t inform us. So, learning that a human life has been lost has really saddened us. We are also in a state of confusion about where the elephants are coming from. This incident has given us a lot of homework too.”
Kinimi also mentioned having a conversation with the ADC Mangkolemba regarding whether it could be an issue of a ‘communication gap’. He informed all villagers that elephant sightings can be reported to him directly. “The easiest mechanism will be to inform me through a phone call or WhatsApp. I have been telling the villagers to do that and have told the same to the villagers today too,” he said.
Kinimi underscored the unpredictable nature of elephants and the need to avoid exposing humans to environments where elephants are active. He also mentioned that because nothing is certain about the ongoing incident, he has even informed the Wildlife Crime Control Unit of Nagaland.
Meanwhile, expressing distress over the unfortunate incident, Mangkolemba ADC also expressed his commitment to addressing such incidents more rigorously and stringently.
The funeral for the deceased was reportedly held at 8 am on Sunday in the village. It is said that, according to central rules, the family of the deceased will be given ex-gratia as compensation.
Meanwhile, in a separate incident in Wokha district, fifteen wild elephants have been reported to be rampaging in Yanmhon Old village area since 19 August. This herd has extensively damaged paddy fields and other agriculture and horticulture crops. Kinimi confirmed that both Yanmhon Old and New villages are affected, disrupting normal life in the area.