FIGHT FOR HOME
K M ASAD
Entrant Name: K M Asad
Award Status: – Nominee
Award Category: Environment
Story Locations: Bangladesh
“For the past six months, we have not been able to sleep because of the “thieves”. They come at night and eat our food”, says the Garo village headman’s wife Mimita. She says that almost every night, a herd of 40 to 50 elephants moves across the border from Meghalaya, India into the Sherpur District in Bangladesh. The elephants sneak up silently, in search of food, they destroy paddy fields, sometimes houses. Visar Kobir headman is angry: “If they eat our rice, how do I feed my family?” He is sad too, he has lost his brother Opu Mark because of a clash with a wild Elephant on 27 May 2021. Another villager survived a clash with an elephant, in his helplessness he filed a case against the giant with the local police.
The villagers in the border areas whose lives depend on subsistence farming, spend months of sleepless nights during the rice cultivation seasons twice every year. They light fires, roam the fields with strong flashlights and use horns and drums to keep the elephants at distance. They are frightened to lose their rice; the months of hard physical labor could be in vain, and their livelihood lost at any moment.
Asian wild elephants have been living in Bangladesh for thousands of years. The increasing settlement in forests and hills, the grabbing of forest land and unplanned development have led to the vast destruction of the elephants’ natural habitat. Elephants are increasingly forced out of the forests in search of food – a cause for intense conflicts between elephants and humans. According to forest officials, more than 50 wild elephants fell victim to this conflict in the past five years, 34 of them in 2021 alone. The biggest threat to the elephants’ survival is live electric wires that farmers use to keep out grazing elephants. The remaining estimated 260 wild elephants in Bangladesh have been listed as critically endangered species by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) due to the diminishing habitat and unusual deaths.
If solutions are not created very soon, Asian wild elephants will no longer be found in Bangladesh in the near future.
A herd of Asian wild elephants in the border area between Northern Bangladesh and India Sherpur 28 September 2022
Deforestation to produce firewood and building materials combined with the further encroachment of people into the hills and forests are the main reason for the rapidly shrinking habitat of wild elephants Sherpur 12 January 2022 br
A Garo tribal family cultivates rice close to an elephant corridor in the border area between Bangladesh and India Sherpur 03 September 2022
Every day local people intrude further into the Asian wild elephants habitat Sherpur 28 September 2022
A wild elephant is running out of the deep forest towards a Garo village Sherpur 08 April 2022
Because of the lack of food wild elephants are forced out of the forest to eat their fill in the paddy fields of local farmers Sherpur 09 April 2022
A group of wild elephants destroyed Abdul Hamid s 65 paddy field on 02 September 2022 He spent around 50 thousand Bangladeshi Taka approx 480 USD to cultivate his field After having lost everything he doesn t know how to feed his family of seven
Local people throw fire to chase the elephants out of their paddy fields Sherpur 08 April 2022
A clash between elephants and humans in a paddy field Sherpur 08 April 2022
Local villagers use fire to scare away a herd of elephants trying to keep their fields safe at night Sherpur 08 April 2022
No chance for the villagers The search for food drives the elephants into the paddy fields of Sherpur night after night 08 April 2022
A wild elephant mother and her child were caught grazing at night Is there a way out
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