With rise in man-animal conflict after an elephant herd migrated from neighbouring Odisha and settled down in the forests of Vizianagaram and Srikakulam in North Andhra since 2007, the Forest Department has decided to intensify sensitisation programmes among tribal people on how to live in harmony with the pachyderms.
The number of elephants in the herd, which was 11 at the time of their entry into Barnakonda forest bordering the two districts, has come down to four owing to a variety of factors.
Immediately after their arrival, one elephant died and another lost its life after one of them was captured and transported back to Odisha in an attempt to relocate it to Lakhari sanctuary near Parlakhemundi in Gajapati district. Most of the herd members died due to electrocution as farmers have installed electric fences fearing the damage to their banana, sugarcane and other crops by the animals. A photographer was among over a dozen human casualties.
Last year, two more elephants were found migrated to Vizianagaram from Odisha. One of them died of electrocution following which a nine-year-old jumbo was shifted to Indira Gandhi Zoological Park here for better care.
“Our attempt is to educate the villagers continuously. We have erected boards at vulnerable places on how to handle the elephants and drive them away,” Additional Principal Chief Conservator of Forest N. Prateep Kumar told The Hindu .
‘No geo-tag plan’
Attempts to declare the area which was adopted by the herd as their new abode, as an elephant sanctuary by acquiring required land from the villagers was dropped during the Congress government due to stiff resistance by the locals. “There is no plan to geo-tag the elephants,” Mr. Kumar said, adding whenever there was claim over man-animal conflict, they had been paying compensation promptly as per rules.
The widely publicised ‘Operation Gajendra’ by bringing two trained elephants Jayant and Ganesh from Tirupati to escort the herd to their original habitat had also failed earlier.
The herd migrated from Odisha and settled down in the forests of Vizianagaram and Srikakulam since 2007
Most of the herd members died due to electrocution as farmers installed electric fences fearing crop damage
‘Operation Gajendra’ to escort the herd to their original habitat had failed earlier
Intensified awareness campaign mooted on elephant herd settled in AP jungle.