Man-animal conflict: Jumbos block National Highway (Bhubaneswar, India)


Riyan Ramanath V, Times of India

Date Published

On a day forest minister Bikram Keshari Arukh informed the assembly about a number of measures being taken to prevent elephants from entering human habitation, reports emerging from Athgarh forest divisionarea suggest the process could be a lengthy one.

Responding to a question from Berhampur legislator Ramesh Chyau Patnaik, who asked about the steps being taken by the forest department to protect the elephants, Arukh said on Tuesday: “We have dug elephant trenches and installed solar fencing to prevent elephants from entering human habitation. The elephant trackers are also working round the clock to drive the elephants away from human habitation.

However, reports suggest that over the past two days a herd of elephants have been blocking the National Highway near Khuntuni, under Athgarh forest division, for more than two hours, resulting in hundreds of vehicles getting stranded on the road. The instances happened on Sunday and Monday and on both occasions the forest department’s elephant tracking squad could do little to drive the herd away.

Athgarh division has been witnessing problems over the past few years with resident elephants of Chandaka wildlife sanctuary straying into the region for food.

Currently, a herd of around 22 elephants have been roaming there.

Over the past one year the area has witnessed a number of cases of man-animal conflicts in which two elephants got electrocuted and four persons were killed. According to the government data, Athgarh forest division alone has 114 resident elephants.

This division is among the top four divisions known for the presence of elephants.

The elephant menace in Athgarh has attracted national attention with Mumbai-based Sanctuary Nature Foundation running a campaign – #Giantrefugees – in a effort to reach out to chief minister Naveen Patnaik about elephant protection. The Wildlife Society of Odisha (WSO) is a partner in this campaign.

Following Bollywood actor Dia Mirza’s tweets, several other actors like Richa Chaddha and Tanisha Mukherjee too have appealed to the CM to save the elephants of Chandaka. The foundation members have also sought a meeting with Naveen to discuss the issue.