Forest department to prepare SOP to deal with jumbos (State of Kerala, India)


K R Rajeev, The Times of India

Date Published

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KOZHIKODE: The state will soon have a standard operating procedure (SOP) to deal with emergencies arising due to straying of wild elephants into human settlements.

Currently, the state forest department lacks a uniform set of field actions for dealing with straying of elephants into human habitations, including a common set of protocols for driving the elephants back to the forest, capture/rescue operations and translocation.

The elephant straying incidents are now being managed locally, which has often lead to lack of coordination between different stakeholders and worsening of the conflict in many cases. 

“There is a need to have uniform procedures in the form of an SOP to manage exigencies involving straying of wild elephants. We have conducted one workshop in Thekkady and broad recommendations in this regard have already come. Now, another workshop sponsored by MoEF for south Indian state is being organized in Thiruvananthapuram on January 11-12 which will also discuss the issue and we are expecting inputs which will ultimately lead to the creation of an SOP,” head of forest force and state chief wildlife warden Anilkumar Bhardwaj said. 

Wayanad Wildlife Warden N T Sajan said that the department has scheduled a training programme for rapid response teams (RRTs) from various districts to be held in Wayanad this month after which a draft SOP would be prepared. 

According to sources, the SOP would lay down the chain of actions to be taken from the moment information is received on straying of wild elephants into human habitations, including informing the concerned police and revenue officials for crowd control and to alert the local residents about the incident. 

“Elephant straying incidents make up for the majority of human-wildlife conflicts in the state. But, still, we do not have a dedicated SOP to deal with such conflict situations despite the operations involving coordinated activity with multiple stakeholders and departments involved. Having an SOP would help in faster mobilization, achieving efficient crowd control and to ensure that the elephants don’t stray further into human habitations,” Wildlife expert and Kerala Forest Research Institutes former director P S Easa said.