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BHUBANESWAR: Disturbing images of a group of youth fooling around a wild elephant in Athagarh became viral a few days ago. The youngsters were seen taunting the jumbo for fun and recording the whole episode on mobile camera. The youngsters were taunting the jumbo for fun and recording the whole episode on mobile camera.
The obsession with selfie with elephants seems to have taken youngsters too far and on a dangerous road in Odisha. On December 11, a native of Angul’s Khamar was trampled while trying get a snap with a jumbo. In September, a youth was killed when his misadventure for a selfie turned fatal in Kuanrmunda forest range of Rourkela. Another man was seriously injured in Dhenkanal during July in a similar selfie-hunting zeal.
Such growing incidents have worried the Wildlife Wing of the State which is now seriously planning to come up with a set of do’s and don’ts for people living close to elephant habitats and corridors.
Chief Wildlife Warden Sandeep Tripathi told this paper that a sensitisation drill is in the order along with a set of guidelines. “We are seriously planning such an exercise, mostly in the conflict areas or regions where the impact of elephant movement is high. Once the winter ends, the drill could be started,” he said.
The impacted regions mostly include Athagarh, Dhenkanal, Angul, Athamallick, Keonjhar, Sambalpur, Jharsuguda, Rairangpur, Rourkela, Sundargarh, Bonai and even Chandaka divisions.
While many of them are impacted by mining, regions in the bordering districts are where migration from Jharkhand and West Bengal has led to serious conflict issues.
During 2016-17, the State Government shelled out over `14.59 crore towards compassionate payment for human deaths, injuries, cattle kills, house as well as crop damage. At least 85 people were killed in elephant attacks.
With the jumbos using new corridors for movement, their exposure to new habitations and whole set of new population has complicated the situation. Athagarh, for one, has emerged as one of the divisions where elephants are hounded by humans.
The Wildlife Wing has also shared with the divisions a standard operating procedure (SOP) which the National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA) had prepared a few years ago for dealing with tigers straying from their habitats. (ENDS)
The SOP calls for imposition of Section 144 under CrPC in areas to keep the mob out of operational areas of large cats. Senior officers of Wildlife Wing believe such strategies can be used for elephants too. Tripathi says the mindset of people must change. “Elephant is revered but tiger is dreaded. However, revering the big animals must not involve hounding which our sensitisation drills must cover,” he says.
Athagarh, Dhenkanal, Angul, Athamallick, Keonjhar, Sambalpur, Jharsuguda, Rairangpur, Rourkela, Sundargarh, Bonai and even
Regions in bordering districts are where migration from Jharkhand and West Bengal has led to serious conflict issues