Sankarsan Jena, a 62-year-old retired lecturer lost his wife in 2013 after she was attacked by an elephant in the Joranda area of Odisha. But that hasn’t stopped him in any way from continuing to run a campaign to create awareness to keep elephants in the state safe.
Sankarashan Jena thinks often of the violent death of his wife in an elephant attack. But he doesn’t feel crushed. “Life and death are in God’s hands, and we are merely his instruments. I cannot hold the entire elephant species responsible,” he says.
on January 1, 2013, the couple were taking their routine morning walk in Joranda, in Dhenkanal district, around 6: 15 am, they saw an elephant suddenly coming their way. His wife panicked, and very next moment the elephant held his wife with its trunk and threw her away.
It took a few weeks for Jena to recover from the mental trauma, and started working for elephant conservation again. His teaching duties apart, he was running an awareness programme on elephant protection.
“The elephant is a beautiful animal, and is an inseparable part of our religious, traditional and historical life. Odisha has a sizeable population of these animals. However, in the past decade, they have come into increasing conflict with humans and face a threat. People are more violent than elephants. Habitat loss and a dwindling food base have made the animals vulnerable,” he says.