Elephant Kills Woman then Returns to Funeral and Tramples Corpse

An elephant in the Indian state of Odisha killed a woman and then trampled her funeral pyre. The local police in Odisha’s Mayurbhanj district were the first to report this curious incident.[1] The late woman- a 70-year-old Maya Murmu was apparently collecting water when she was trampled by the animal. Official reports mention that the animal had strayed from the Dalma Wildlife Sanctuary. Incidentally, the sanctuary lies about 10 miles from the industrial city of Jamshedpur. After the attack took place, Murmu was taken to a hospital where she was pronounced dead. This was again informed by an inspector at the Rasgovindpur police station, Lopamudra Nayak.

As it turns out, the story of the animal didn’t end there. While the family members had gathered to perform the funeral services for Murmu, the elephant appeared once again. It was reported by The Print that the animal went on to trample the corpse and flung it away before fleeing. One of the founders of the conservation charity Save The Asian Elephants, Duncan McNair, went on to state that this should be a reminder that the creatures could be dangerous. However, as reported by Newsweek he mentioned that the incidents took place under provocation. “These endangered elephants can be deadly dangerous, particularly when provoked or abused,” he said.

According to Duncan, Asiatic elephants have been victims of “torture and stabbing”. He further mentioned that, “Elephants are generally benign, and passive… they don’t rush out of nowhere to attack people that pose no threat to their safety, or babies or to anything like that. This incident is surprising because it shows no provocation of the elephants. (Further) it is just possible that if the elephant was in proximity still at the time of the funeral, and that’s not clear, that it will have recognized the remains. And it may have seen or smelled that and it may have associated that woman with some catastrophe to it or its herd. That is quite possible.

An Asiatic Elephant.
Image Credits: Stock

Elephant Attacks Woman In Odisha- Returns To Trample Her Corpse

The latest research posits that the conflict between elephants and humans is on the rise. This is due to the loss of the animals’ natural habitat which has forced them into closer proximity. Change in climate has also made it considerably harder for these wild animals. As the temperature increases, the sources of water also dry up. This results in the animals hunting out newer resources. Interestingly, this then results in them coming in contact with humans. Mayurbhanj district in Odisha- where this tragedy took place- has already been the center of several droughts. 

Back in May, an elephant had crushed another Indian farmer to death. The animal along with its herd strayed into the farmlands.[3] The 11 elephants had been wandering around the Chittoor district in Andhra Pradesh. And the farmer who died was safeguarding the field from thieves. Most media outlets stated that the farmer died immediately after the elephant trampled him. While the animals are usually gentle, they can often attack when feeling vulnerable. They also have a tendency to attack when they feel threatened. 

As mentioned by the World Wildlife Fund, these instances put elephants in a bad light. Back in 2001- such incidents made Indian farmers poison as many as 60 elephants [4]. Regardless, it still isn’t clear why a wild elephant attacked Murmu. The Dalma sanctuary, which also functions as a safari park has had a favored history with Asiatic elephants. According to the Forest Department, this is due to the abundance of water- even in Summer.

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  1. Odisha: Elephant tramples woman, then her corpse.” The Print. June 11, 2022.
  2. Elephant Kills Woman Then Returns to Funeral and Tramples Corpse.” Newsweek. Robyn White. June 13, 2022.
  3. “Farmer Trampled to Death by Elephant After Herd Destroyed Crops” Newsweek. May 27, 2022.
  4. “India: up to 300 people may be killed annually in human-elephant conflicts” WWF. No date.
Mayukh Saha
Freelance Writer
Mayukh is a Content Marketer and Social Media Manager with over 5 years of experience in the industry. Mayukh believes in the power of content; how it can positively impact lives, scale businesses and touch people. In his spare time Mayukh likes to read about latest tech trends and loves to travel in the nature. You can reach him at [email protected]