DHAKA, Feb 23 ― A wild elephant yesterday trampled to death two people, including a child, as it rampaged through a Rohingya refugee camp in Bangladesh, officials said.
The incident occurred at the massive Kutupalong camp in the southeastern border district of Cox’s Bazar, where hundreds of thousands of Rohingya have taken refuge after fleeing what UN officials have called ethnic cleansing in Myanmar’s Rakhine state.
“The wild elephant trampled a Rohingya child to death... and then trampled another Bangladeshi man to death when it was chased by Rohingya refugees and local villagers,” Ali Kabir, the district forest department chief, told AFP.
Kabir said at least another five people were injured as the elephant rampaged through flimsy tarpaulin-and-bamboo huts, which were built on forest land after the influx of refugees began nearly six months ago.
“It destroyed some 100 Rohingya huts,” Mohammad Nikaruzzaman, the town administrator, told AFP, adding the lone wild elephant had separated from its herd.
Cox’s Bazar is home to more than 100 elephants, but the building of massive Rohingya settlements on the last remaining forest land in the region has put humans on a collision course with the wild animals.
Since refugees began arriving in August last year, at least 13 people ― most of them Rohingya ― have been killed by wild elephants, Kabir said.
“All these refugee camps have been built on forest land. And the deaths are occurring in what was formerly forest land,” he added.
There are two refugee camps in Cox’s Bazar, but land in these settlements has been all but exhausted, with new arrivals clearing trees and other vegetation to build shelters. ― AFP