Petty Pachyderm: Elephant Kills Indian Woman, Returns to Wreck Her Funeral, Too

CC BY-SA 4.0 / Thilinakaluthotage / Indian elephant
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Deforestation and human settlement expansion have increasingly brought humans and elephants into conflict in India. According to India’s environmental ministry, 1,401 people and 301 elephants were killed in the 2018-2020 period alone.
After an elephant killed a woman in northern India last week, the huge mammal then showed up at her funeral and attacked her lifeless corpse, too.

According to the Economic Times of India, 70-year-old Maya Murmu of Odisha’s Mayurbhanj district was ferociously attacked by a wild Indian elephant on Friday while gathering water. The woman was rushed to a nearby hospital, but her injuries were too severe and she soon died, Rasgovindpur police station inspector Lopamudra Nayak said.

As is customary in India, her family elected to hold her funeral that night, building a pyre on which to burn her body. However, the elephant that had killed her showed up at the funeral while preparations were still being made and attacked once again, dragging her body off the pyre and stomping on her corpse.
However, the pernicious pachyderm’s reign of terror was not yet finished. It then roared, calling in several other elephants, who then attacked the village. Maya Murmu’s house was smashed and her goats were killed, and several other houses were destroyed as well, with the elephants eating their stored grain.
The villagers fled when the elephants attacked, only returning several hours later, at which time they completed the woman’s cremation ceremony.
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Roughly 100 people are killed by elephants each year in India, though the number could be significantly higher. It has increased in recent years as human settlement further encroaches on elephants’ remaining forest habitats.
Indian elephants are regarded as endangered by the World Wildlife Fund, with between 20,000 and 25,000 spread across India and several other Southeast Asian nations. They are highly intelligent, with cognition tests showing they have memory and problem-solving skills comparable to chimpanzees and highly developed social structures in which clans protect, raise, and mourn the loss of their members.
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