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Thursday, July 09, 2020

Tripura to radio collar elephants to minimize human-jumbo conflict

Speaking to indianexpress.com, the Chief Wildlife Warden informed that wild and captive elephants alike would be ‘radio collared’ using satellite collars and Very High Frequency (VHF) collars soon to keep a track of their movements and drive them back to forests in case of any imminent conflict.

Written by Debraj Deb | Agartala (tripura) | Published: June 20, 2020 7:52:04 pm
In Karnataka, the highways and roads near the forest area have seen numerous accidents of elephants and other wildlife animals leading to death.

Tripura has decided to tag all elephants living inside the state using radio collars to avert any possible man-animal conflict. With increasing human activity in forests settlements and illegal encroachment, more elephants are found in human habitations, destroying crops and rural habitations every year. Fifty elephant-human conflicts are registered on average every year in Tripura, Chief Wildlife Warden DK Sharma said.

Speaking to indianexpress.com, the Chief Wildlife Warden informed that wild and captive elephants alike would be ‘radio collared’ using satellite collars and Very High Frequency (VHF) collars soon to keep a track of their movements and drive them back to forests in case of any imminent conflict.

“Elephant-animal conflicts here include cases when the jumbo stall traffic movement in some parts as all weather proof roads were constructed dividing their natural corridors. Humans have increased activity in forests, vying for the same space and same products like wild yams, bamboo etc. If humans go inside the forests, where will the elephants go?” he asked.

As per a report of the state Forest Department from few years back, Tripura has 102 elephants including 42 wild elephants and 60 under captivity. A new elephant survey was undertaken in March this year but the reports couldn’t be finalized since lockdown was imposed soon after.

West Bengal, Assam, Uttarakhand, Chattisgarh, Karnataka and few other states of the country earlier took similar initiatives to save their jumbos. Earlier in 2015, the central government mooted a plan to ‘radio-collar’ its elephants to track their movements and minimize conflict.

As per estimates, nearly 400 humans and 100 elephants die every year in different cases of human-elephant conflict across the country.

In Tripura, a 62 year old Chitta Mohan Debbarma was killed in a wild elephant attack at Bidyamohan Choudhury Para, a tribal hamlet in Kalyanpur of Khowai district in May last year. A baby elephant was recovered from a jungle in Watilong Tilla of Kalyanpur village itself later in December.

However, the Chief Wildlife Warden informed that elephant movements have become restricted in few parts of the state like Simna, Tulashikhar, Khowai etc. due to crossing roads and National Highway 08 between them.

He said the forest department recently placed a proposal to the National Highway Authorities of India (NHAI) authorities to make elevated roads in certain patches prone to elephant movement and leave underpasses beneath to allow the jumbos continue their ‘walk’.

The radio collaring initiative is expected to be a major success after a recent achievement of the forest department, where they convinced few municipal bodies along the Udaipur-Amarpur Road to avoid dumping urban waste near forests.

These wastes attract elephant and other animals, which try to taste different kind of food as well. Due to high salt content in these leftovers, they became easily attracted to them and kept coming back. But most of these waste materials were left in plastic bags. Unable to open them, they were ingested wholly.

“We found plastic in elephant dung in several parts of the state and finally requested all municipal, self government bodies to avoid dumping urban waste near the highway or forests. They have positively reciprocated and we aren’t seeing the plastic problem anymore recently”, Sharma said.

As part of setting up natural defense mechanism for villagers, the state government started a project for beekeeping in agricultural fields to thwart elephant attacks as jumbos are known to fear the stingy insects.

The government has undertaken initiatives to grow elephant fodder in the jungles by bamboo and banana plantations, setting up watering holes etc. as part of check dams built in the forests.

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