Kyar Chaung village, Myanmar
It was a fine winter evening and the first frame I took was a silhouette of a farmer and his wife wearing ta-na-ka, riding on their cow carts, so at once, I thought this is a very nice village. But in fact, its people have been living in fear for several years.
Kyar Chaung village is 64 miles north of Yangon, Myanmar. Most villagers have two houses. One on the ground to stay during the daytime and one in a tree to protect themselves from a wild elephant’s attack.
As I went to see the head of the village, people were already gathering in front of his house and chattering about a man who had to run for his life as he was chased by an elephant just a day ago.
“One night, while we were sleeping, we heard a loud crashing sound. I knew it was a ‘Bo-Taw’ (meaning elephant as if it is a powerful spirit). I was shocked when I found its trunk already lifting our rice bag. I just ran and ran and ran!”, the wife of the village’s head recalled her most terrifying memory with an elephant searching for meal. Luckily none of her family was hurt that night. “They can get a smell from within 5 miles and they can run more than 10 times faster than us!”
Five other neighboring villages within a 7 miles radius have been terrorized for 16 years. Villagers plant paddies, corns, sugar-canes, bananas and other crops for a living. Their houses are scattered, a few in the paddy fields, a few near the banana fields, some at the edge of the corn fields but all these fields are what an elephant loves to eat. It was not a problem when there was one or two elephants here. But villagers say there are about 30 to 40 elephants who eat in these fields that the villagers have been planting all their life. I knew there must be a reason for the increase over the last few years. Later, I found out why.