Forest dept may acquire land in Kodagu to reduce man-elephant conflict (India)


Deccan Herald

Date Published
Elephants are often seen in the Nagarahole-Brahmagiri stretch. PTI?File Photo

To reduce man-elephant conflict, especially in Kodagu, the Forest Department is keen to acquire land from people and has joined hands with Wildlife Trust of India (WTI) in this regard.
The department wants to acquire about two kilometre of land belonging to the Huvinkadu and Faith coffee estates, which is part of the Kutta-Tiranahalli corridor, which in turn is part of the Nagarahole-Brahmagiri elephant corridor link. “Elephants use this stretch and we want to acquire it to reduce man-animal conflict,” Manoj Kumar, Chief Conservator of Forests, Kodagu, told reporters here on Friday on the sidelines of a workshop on ‘Dealing with leopards and elephants in human-use landscape’ here organised by Wildlife Conservation Society-India Programme (WCSIP).
“Landowners are demanding Rs 20 lakh for an acre. Hence, we have approached the WTI to map the area, ascertain land width and find out if that is necessary because there is another route through Wayanad which is also frequented by elephants,” he said.
To further reduce man-elephant conflict, the Forest Department will soon hold meetings with officials in forest departments of Kerala and Tamil Nadu on how to strengthen the Nilgiri Biosphere Reserve. The 6,000-sq km biosphere reserve presently houses 6,000-odd elephants. The last meeting in this regard was held in December 2014.
“We will hold meetings with the deputy and assistant conservators of forests of the two states to assess ground reality and undertake research. There is a need to know how many elephants can the biosphere hold and for how long. It’s crucial since this is the only habitat left for elephants. That will also help strengthen corridors,” Kumar added.
Prithviraj Fernando, Trustee and Scientist at the Centre for Conservation and Research, Sri Lanka, stressed the importance of ensuring safe habitats for elephants. “Case studies in India, Malaysia and Sri Lanka have shown that elephant relocation has not been very successful. Relocation is temporary and shifts the problem from one area to another,” he said while speaking on human-elephant interaction.
Fernando, who has been working on elephant conservation in Sri Lanka for many years now, said there was a huge population of jumbos in the island nation, and 70 people and 250 elephants died in conflict every year.
Vidya Athreya, Senior Research Fellow at WCSIP, spoke on human-leopard interaction and Ranjeet Jadhav, a journalist at Mid-Day, Mumbai, spoke  on ‘Reporting human-leopard interactions in Maharashtra: A case study’.