WWF plans teams to contain human-elephant conflict in Uttarakhand (India)


Nihi Sharma Sahani, Hindustan Times

Date Published
The World Wide Fund for Nature-India (WWF) is considering setting up a conservation project for effective management of human-animal conflict and protecting the habitats of elephants in the Rajaji Tiger Reserve and Haridwar forest division.
WWF-India has identified several areas in the Rajaji Tiger reserve and the Haridwar forest division where human-animal conflicts are on the rise, said AK Singh, chief of Terai Arc Landscape of the WWF.
“Whenever there’s human-elephant conflict, people do not know what to do. So, we started an effort to manage conflict by training locals. We trained them, gave them equipment like torches, fire crackers…so that during conflict situation, the team could work in an organised manner,” Singh told Hindustan Times.
“We have identified certain pockets in Haridwar and Rajaji…where we will soon start these squads.”
In 2013, WWF-India had taken up the conservation project to strengthen the existing efforts of managing human-elephant conflict across six states, in four priority landscapes — the North Bank landscape in Arunachal Pradesh, Kaziranga and Karbi-Anglong in Assam; Terai Arc landscape in Uttarakhand, Uttar Pradesh and Bihar; Western Ghats landscape in Tamil Nadu and Kerala and also some parts of northern West Bengal.
As part of the project, WWF had constituted an anti-depredation squad on the southern periphery of Corbett Tiger Reserve that witnessed a large number of human-elephant conflicts.
A team of 10-15 members was chosen from among the villagers and provided repeated trainings in driving away elephants. Prior to this, similar squads were constituted in Dudhwa National Park, and Katarniaghat Wildlife Sanctuary in neighbouring Uttar Pradesh.
WWF experts felt an urgent need to constitute similar squads at Haridwar and Rajaji too as these areas are also under the influence of conflict.
The WWF has plans to build power fence at both the areas. Presently, a 4km fence at Ramnagar and a 3km fence on the southern boundary of Corbett are keeping elephants away from entering villages. The best part of fencing is that they are operated and managed by villagers themselves.
“Low cost power fence works on pulsating current of 9,000 volt, which is safe for elephants,” said Singh.
“The current flowing through the wires automatically gets disconnected every two seconds. We are ready to build the fence which will be implemented by the villagers to manage human-animal conflict.”
Such precautions are necessary, especially when the elephant population in the state is increasing, he said.
The census conducted in June this year, reported a 15% increase of the specie in the state. A total of 1,797 elephants were reported this year that were only 1559 in 2012.
Elephants move through the Lansdowne-Corbett-Kotdwar-Haridwar-Rajaji-Dehradun corridor in the state and villages in these areas are prone to human-elephant conflict.