March 10, 2018

Cooking and frying of the meat in Ojo Olaniyan Adaralode’s compound.

As controversies continue to trail the killing of an elephant in Idanre, Ondo State, the local hunter who led the killing claimed that the animal was killed to save the lives and properties of the people of the community. HAKEEM GBADAMOSI, who visited the community, writes on his findings.

“These elephants will come in the night, destroying farms and houses. On this fateful day, I was called that a group of elephants, numbering about eight, had invaded the farms of some residents at Janiyi Village. I rushed there and lo and behold, we met about eight elephants, already charging and running after the residents of the village.” That was how Ojo Adaralode opened his account of the community’s encounter with some elephants a few days ago.

In the last few days, the news of the killing of an elephant by in Janiyi Village, Idanre in Idanre Local Government Area of Ondo State, spread like a wild fire and has gone viral on the social media, becoming a subject  of discourse across the world. The killing, which some people perceived to be a risky, difficult task, was carried out by 57-year-old local hunter, Adaralode, who said his action was a patriotic act to defend his people against attacks by elephants that had frequently been straying into and destroying the village and six other adjourning villages.

To some people and residents of the affected communities, the killing was a great relief because of what they had suffered in the past and the havoc wreaked on their farmland and the killing of some residents by the elephants in recent time. Adaralode, who is the head hunter and president of the Hunters Association in Idanre Local Government Area, explained that the killing of the elephant was not deliberate but it was done in self-defence.

One of the hunters injured by the elephants in a hospital in Idanre.

Speaking with Saturday Tribune, Adaralode said elephants from the thick forest surrounding the community had been visiting the affected villages in the area for some time. The invading elephants, he said, had been destroying their mud houses, farmlands and injuring residents.

The hunter, who has become a hero among the villagers, said leaders of the
six communities, including Alawo  Ekun, Atupa,  Ayinuola, Blessing, Ago
Taylor and Nirowi, sought the help of local hunters to wade off the
animals, following their frequent invasion of their communities, as many of
the residents had been rendered homeless.

He explained that many houses had been destroyed by the animals that
usually invaded the community in the night, apparently looking for what to
eat. He added that the animals had, however, become more daring, coming
into the villages during day time and gradually sacking the affected
communities and their residents.

These elephants would come in the night, destroying farms and houses. On
this fateful day, I was called that a group of elephants, numbering about
eight, had invaded the farms of some residents at Janiyi Village. I rushed
there and lo and behold, we met about eight elephants, already charging and
running after the residents of the village.”

A farmer/ hunter, who sighted the elephants on his farm and raised the
alarm, was surrounded by the animals. He tried to shoot into the air to
scare them away, but the animals surrounded him, trampled on him and, in
the process, destroyed his gun. The young hunter is still lying critically
ill in a hospital here in Idanre.

Apart from the young man, no fewer than eight members of the community
were said to have sustained varying degree of injuries during the stampede,
which lasted more than three hours, before one of the elephants was hit by
the bullets of the hunters who shot sporadically to scare away the animals.

We shot into the air several times to scare the elephants away, but our
efforts yielded no result and one of the elephants was shot in the process.
The other elephants tried to protect one of their own that was injured.
They dragged it from the scene, even when they noticed the wounded
elephant, a female, had given up the ghost but eventually they all left
without it,”Adaralode said.

The chief hunter said the people of the communities had been living in fear
for months as the group of elephants kept visiting the communities. He said
all efforts to keep away the animals from the communities yielded no
result. He, therefore, solicited help from the government and the relevant
agencies to come to the aid of the people of the agrarian communities
saying many of the residents have stopped going to the farm.

Government should try and capture these animals. We have other animals
here, we have lions and leopards in this thick forest and people are scared
to live in these villages now,” he said.

However, the home of the 57-year-old hunter in Idanre has been turned to a
Mecca of sort, as people from various adjourning communities have been
thronging his house to confirm the development. Saturday Tribune reporter
who visited the home of the hunter did not leave the house empty handed as
he was offered a chunk of the elephant meat.

Speaking in the same vein, the Ode-Ekun of Idanreland, Smart Oguntimehin,
corroborated Adaralode?s claim on the invasion of the affected communities
by the elephants and also sought for government?s assistance in helping to
ward off the animals from these areas.

Oguntimehin explained that a young farmer, who was working on his farm,
noticed the arrival of the animals and tried to chase them out of the farm,
adding, ?But before he could bring himself together, the animals started
charging at him and trampled on him until he became unconscious.

Cruelty to animals is a crime and we cannot take the law into our hands.
But we must guide against the killing of our people. We have to protect our
lives; human lives are involved and we call on relevant authorities and
bodies to come to our aid in bringing these animals under control.”

Saturday Tribune visited one of the farmers/hunters who was injured during
the attack at a hospital where he was receiving treatment, but he was too
weak to talk. However, some residents of the ancient town, who spoke on
this issue, blamed wildlife officials in the state for giving little or no
attention to controlling the animals from getting into people?s homes while
coming out from the thick forest in the area.

One of the respondents said the Forest Reserves housed many wild animals,
apart from elephants, accusing the authorities of having failed to deploy
wildlife rangers to team up with the villagers to capture the rampaging

He said the situation was becoming more worrisome as the elephants now see
human beings as their enemies, warning residents of the area to stop
farming in the wildlife corridors and to steer clear of the animals, saying
the animals would definitely be back. Warning the residents not to sleep
with their two eyes closed, he said the elephants would soon mobilise
themselves to attack the people, adding, ?these animals are intelligent and
hardly forget things. They will be back to revenge.?

A scholar from the Department of Ecotourism and Wild Life of the Federal
University of Technology, Akure (FUTA), Professor Ilesanmi Adeyemo, however
frowned at the development and called for the immediate arrest and
prosecution of the man who killed the elephant. The university lecturer
said elephants are one of the species of animals that are on the verge of
extinction and should be protected.

What that man did is illegal and he should be arrested and tried because
almost all the elephants in the area have been killed illegally. I don?t
think we have up to 15 elephants in the whole of Nigeria and we are
seriously looking for a way to conserve them. So, for someone to go and
kill an elephant, he should be arrested,”he said.

Professor Adeyemo described Adaralode?s claim on the attack by the
elephants as a white lie, noting that ?elephants rarely attack people and I
will not believe he killed the animal to defend himself or his people.?

He, however, said some steps should be taken to protect the elephants in
the area, adding, ?If we are sure the elephants are there, we can make
efforts to fence the place to keep them away from danger and if government
can spend millions of naira to protect these animals, to ensure that people
who come from other parts of the world visit there to see the animals in
their natural habitat, anybody who kills the animals should face the wrath
of the law. Killing of that elephant is a loss to the country because we
don?t have up to 10 in the whole of Nigeria.?

This news service is provided by Save the Elephants.