Lack of govt focus adds to man-elephant conflict in Assam

GUWAHATI, Dec 9 (Agencies) | Publish Date: 12/9/2018 11:55:04 AM IST

The forest authorities seem completely clueless as elephant fatalities accruing from the raging human-elephant conflict have reached an unprecedented high in the State in the past two years.

According to The Assam Tribune, the statistics are chilling. In 2017, over 60 elephants died in Assam, mostly from train-hits, poisoning and electrocution, and 43 of the fatalities took place during September-December. The human casualty, too, was high at over 40 for the year.

The situation apparently turned worse this year with 64 humans and 53 elephants losing their lives till December 4, 2018.

Conservationists feel that the absence of a focused approach by the forest department and the State government as a whole has added to the intensity of the conflict.

“Key issues, like deforestation and degradation of forests, must be addressed as a matter of policy. Growing fragmentation of elephant habitat and movement corridors are having a worsening impact on the conflict. The situation is akin to that of a disaster and responses should follow in that line, with resources procured accordingly from line departments concerned,” Dr Bibhab Talukdar, CEO of conservation NGO Aaranyak told The Assam Tribune.

More than national parks and wildlife sanctuaries which enjoy better protection, the shrinkage and fragmentation of the vast network of reserved forests that account for a substantial portion of elephant habitat is triggering a spurt in human-elephant conflicts.

“Elephant habitat in reserve forests is not only getting degraded and fragmented, but is also shrinking rapidly, causing drastic reduction in the carrying capacity. 

It is not surprising that the conflict is now being witnessed in areas previously not exposed to such conflict,” he said.

While forest officials point out that various measures, including compensation against crop loss and human death, have been adopted to reduce human-elephant conflict, conservationists stress that much more needs to be done to ease the situation.

“Plantation, better vigilance on elephant movement, quick dispensation of compensation, relocation of inhabitant on elephant corridors, etc., are on our agenda to ease the conflict,” a forest official said.

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