Blocked Corridors Take A Toll on Jumbo Lives (India, Athagarh)


The New Indian Express

Date Published

ATHAGARH: Officials of the Athagarh forest division under notified Mahanadi Elephant Reserve are finding it hard to control man-animal conflict. In the last five years, 46 elephant deaths have been officially recorded here.

Elephants can be found in all its five ranges of Athagarh, Khuntuni, Baramba, Narsinghpur (east) and Narsinghpur (west). The Athagarh forest circle spread over 50,451 hectares, has 114 elephants as per the 2015 census. The number has dwindled from 131 in 2012, 133 in 2010 and 139 as per 2007 census.

Sources said Government spends crores of rupees in paying compensation to the farmers for the crop loss sustained in elephant attacks as about 25 elephants from Chandaka sanctuary keep crossing river Mahanadi near Devidwar of Damapada to enter the division near Baghera village regularly. The herd moves in Sukasan Reserve Forest to Boudabanakhandi, Khalakhala, Oringa, Subasi, Brahmanabasta, Suniamuhan, Boula and Sankhapol Reserve forests. Often it enters agriculture fields and damage crops in the process.

But poaching for tusk, electrocution, railway or road accidents have led to a rise in elephant deaths in the region in the past few years. The reasons are obstructing elephant corridors through high fences erected by industrial units, unavailability of adequate drinking water and food in the forest, forest fire among others.

As Athagarh Forest Division also lacks infrastructure, trained staff and funds for round-the-clock patrolling and allied services, it has been hard to put a check on elephant deaths due to man-animal conflict.

When contacted, DFO Arun Mishra said infrastructure development like barracks, establishment of anti-­poaching camps and erection of watch towers in areas vulnerable to poaching, development of communication facilities, funds for round-the-clock patrolling, engagement of anti- poaching, anti-depredation and protection squads in critically endangered areas besides use of advanced technology and awareness campaign can help in reducing elephant toll.