Men, Jumbos in War Zone for Survival (India)


By Express News Service

Date Published
BHUBANESWAR: In a stark pointer to rising man-animal conflict in the State, 685 wild elephants have lost their lives while nearly an equal number of 660 humans killed in jumbo attacks in the last 10 years.
More than 153 elephants have been killed by humans through poaching, poisoning or electrocution while 68 deaths have been directly linked to straying into human habitats and being run over by trains or electrocuted. Cause of death of 121 elephants in the last decade has be ascertained but human links to them cannot be ruled out.
The straying pachyderms have inflicted heavy damage on property and livelihood resources as well, destroying 8024 houses, standing crops of 87,403 acre and killing 66 domestic animals during the period. The damage and destruction has forced the Government to pay a compensation of `43.35 lakh as of date, State Forest and Environment Minister Bikram Keshari Arukh told the Assembly on Tuesday.
Replying to a question on the number of deaths in man-animal conflict, particularly in context of elephants, Arukh said there have been 51 jumbo deaths in 2014-15 as of March 10, of which four have been killed by poachers and two deliberately electrocuted by people on straying into human zones. Two have died of accidental electrocution.
While food insufficiency and jungle depredation are major factors for straying of the jumbos into human habitats, the Minister said the Government has charted out an action plan to minimise death and damage.
“The elephant habitats are being enriched with plantations, mainly those plants that are favoured by the animals, as well as revival of water bodies and construction of new ones. Rapid Response Teams and Anti-Depredation Committees have been formed in the sensitive areas to chart out location-specific plans for preventing animal incursions. Elephant trackers have also been deployed to monitor movements of the jumbos,” the Minister said.
The Government has also taken up an ambitious five-year plan for developing 14 identified elephant corridors in the State. To prevent jumbo casualties on railway tracks, efforts are being made to identify accident prone spots and equip these with protection mechanisms in coordination with Railway, Forest Department and local communities.