FROM A CORRESPONDENT
KALAIGAON, Nov 30: Human and elephant conflict has taken a serious turn in Udalguri district in Assam with death of five wild elephants during the month of November this year. A total of four people and 10 wild elephants have been killed due to the conflict in 2017. Unfortutely no positive action has been taken by the Assam Government or BTC authority to mitigate the problem but the authorities concerned are busy offering forest land to organizations and companies on elephant corridors.
Bodoland Territorial Council (BTC) authority had allotted 500 bighas of land in newly Proposed Reserved Forest (PRF) bordering Bhutan in 2010. Taking advantage of the government order, the organization occupied more than 5,000 bigha land illegally. The government also allotted another 2,000 bigha land for elephant corridor in the Samrang area near the new PRF. Small tea garden owners backed by powerful men in BTC also established tea gardens encroaching hills and government land and destroying the age-old wild elephant corridors. Most of the wild elephants have died due to poisoning, electrocution and elephant calves falling into tea garden ditches.
Jayanta Das, member of Udalguri District Jourlist Union and Green Society, alleged that a few intertiol NGOs organize workshops and semirs on man-elephant conflict in five-star hotels in Guwahati but practically nothing is done in the district to help the forest department or affected people. Officials of such NGOs meet some local boys for collection of data to be mentioned in their papers for intertiol funding.
Wildlife activist and former honorary Wildlife Warden of the district, Jayanta Kumar Das, and Dipen Boro, vice-president of ABSU State committee and a resident of the district, while criticizing activities of such organizations, said that nothing had been done in the district for the mitigation of man-elephant conflict, either by the government or wildlife conservation organizations. He urged the forest department to take into confidence the local experienced people working in the field for years.
“Without cooperation of the local people, the conflict will never stop,” said Das. According to him, tea giants like Tata, McLeod Russel and Goodricke could have done much for permanent solution to the problem had they been interested. Tea gardens can sponsor domestic Kunki to forest department as wild elephants are afraid of Kunki elephants. Encroachment of forest and reserve land by people for establishing small tea gardens on elephant corridors has been shrinking elephant habitats in the district since 1990.