Man-elephant conflict worsens in Udalguri (India)


The Sentinel

Date Published
Large-scale human encroachment over the age-old elephant corridors of Udalguri district has posed serious threat to ecology of the district as well as the State. Unabated felling of trees in Khalingduar Reserve Forest and Bornadi Wildlife Sanctuary, and destruction of the green cover have compelled wild elephants to roam in human habitation.

A visit to the Indo-Bhutan international border will reveal this horrific truth of forest destruction. All the PRFs (Proposed Reserve Forests) namely Neewly, Kundarbi and Bhairabkunda have been encroached by various unscrupulous  people and organizations. Revenue Circle Officers working in Harisinga, Udalguri and Mazbat Revenue Circles during 1990-2006 earned millions of rupees by allotting pattas to the encroacher in cooperation with mandals and kanangos. This is the untold story behind the so-called man-elephant conflict in the district.

Bornadi Wildlife Sanctuary and Khalingduar Reserve Forest have virtually been shrinking day by day. Banana and bamboo trees are vanishing fast in the forests because of roaming of thousands of domestic cattle inside the forest causing food crisis for the wild elephants. A full grown wild elephant needs 170kg-200 kg of food items and 80-200 litres of water daily. So far 19 people and 10 wild elephants have been killed. Most wild elephants died because of poisoning and electrocution. Baby wild elephants are dying from falling in deep ditches of tea gardens.

Some organizations like Elephants on the Line (EOL) of North Carolina State University, USA and the United States Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS), had undertaken village-wise awareness for mitigating man-elephant conflict in Udalguri and also facilitated educational workshops in Bhutan in 2014.

Elephants on the Line (EoL) is an organization that is collaborating between Bhutan, India and US partners to address the major human-elephant conflict issues in this area. In 2014 the focus of EoL was Udalguri district which had one of the highest HEC rates in all of Asia.