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SHILLONG: Director General of Forests, Siddhanta Das has assured that the Union Environment and Forest Ministry will provide the assistance to Meghalaya Government to address the concerns of human-animal conflict and for securing corridor for the safe passage of migratory elephants along the Indo-Bangla border.
Speaking to media persons during the 2nd Indo-Bangladesh Dialogue on Trans-Boundary Conservation of Elephants which began here in Shillong on Thursday, Das said that there were 9000 elephants in the North East and many migratory elephants keeping on moving to and fro between Bangladesh from Meghalaya.
“We have discussed on how to give them (elephant) a safe passage and how to have capacity building measures to minimize human animal conflict,” Das told reporters.
As the elephants go from one habitat to other habitat using natural migration corridors, Das stressed on the need to conserve the existing elephant corridors besides identifying new corridors to enable the elephants for the safety of the animal and to avoid conflict with human beings.
When asked about the elephant population in the country, Das claimed that the population of elephant was increasing and as per the last population census. The number of elephants was 30000 in the country as per the last census report and a synchronised population study conducted recently indicated that the elephant population was increasing though actual findings of the study would be announced shortly.
Reacting to a query about the poaching of elephants, the official said that it was a state subject and the Ministry was providing necessary support to the State Governments in terms of capacity building measures, Project Elephant and creating necessary awareness.
He also said that the Union Government did not give compensation in matters pertaining to the human animal conflict but Centre could consider the proposals of the State Government in this respect.
Earlier, while addressing the meeting, Md Shafiul Alam Chowdhury, Conservator of Forests, Bangladesh, said that they had devised a number of policies and developed relevant regulations and legislations to protect the elephants.
He added that Bangladesh had shown strong adherence to several international agreements and treaties for the conservation of elephants.
“Based on available knowledge and information, the key threats to elephant population in Bangladesh are food insufficiency, habitat loss and fragmentation and loss of elephants due to conflict with human beings,” he said.
Maintaining that the elephants should also be given the opportunity to survive as a part of the nature, he asserted that cross-border migration of elephants to Bangladesh took place mainly from India and Myanmar by using trans-border routes as corridor for their movement.
He further said that Indian elephants used the Meghalaya and Sherpur border, Assam and Sylhet (Juri Range) border, Sunamganj and Meghalaya border as corridor for their movement.
Meghalaya Soil and Water Conservation Minister, Ronnie V Lyngdoh who was also present on the occasion informed that Meghalaya was home to more than 1800 elephants besides there were 30 corridors in South West Garo Hills and South Garo Hills in Meghalaya and Sherpur district of Bangladesh which is used by elephants.
The one-day consultation was attended by a high-level delegation of Government of India and Bangladesh.
The meeting was scheduled to discuss the smuggling of elephants for captive use which is a serious concern. The meeting took note that fencing of the Indo Bangla border would affect the natural migration routes of elephants and other wild animals.