FROM A CORRESPONDENT
UDALGURI, March 26: Elephants on the Line (EOL), a programme launched last year to mitigate the man-elephant conflict in the villages bordering India and Bhutan has been going on in Udalguri district.
The programme, being sponsored by the North Caroli State University, USA and the United States Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS), has been undertaken village-wise in association with the district administration and the Dhansiri Forest Division, Udalguri.
Under the EOL programme, on March 21 awareness and demonstration workshops were organised in three remote villages – Gitibari, Ganeshghat and Santipur – bordering Bhutan. An EOL team comprising Dr KK Sarma from the College of Veteriry Science, Khapara, Guwahati, environmental jourlist Mubi Akhtar, who is also the honorary advisor of the Assam Wildlife Board, Assam EOL coorditor Jayanta K Das, Dr Pranjal Bezbarua from Gauhati University along with Raju Brahma, ACF, Udalguri and local EOL members visited the villages hit by man-elephant conflict.
The team organised live demonstration on the do’s and don’ts for the villagers. The three villages, mostly inhabited by Adivasi, Bodo and Nepali people, had been witness to man-elephant conflict since decades due to ignorance and illiteracy. The EOL members taught them how to prepare chilly sticks/candles to drive away wild elephants. The villagers were also encouraged to take up plantation of lemon citrus as an altertive crop that prevents entry of wild elephants into villages.
The EOL team also had a meeting with Girindra Adhikari, DFO, Dhansiri Forest Division, Udalguri at the Paneri Forest IB. The DFO formally launched the chilly sticks prepared by EOL to prevent entry of wild elephants in the villages during night time. A colourful poster on the need for creating habitat for wild elephants and tips to avoid confrontation with wild elephants was also released on the occasion.
It needs mention that 22 people and eight wild elephants had been killed during 2014 in Udalguri district which was considered as the highest man-elephant-conflict casualty anywhere in Asia. A group of ture-loving people of India, USA and Bhutan had formed ‘Elephants on the Line’ in July, 2014. The first meeting was held at Udalguri on July 24 which was sponsored by two consecutive deputy commissioners of the district – Thaneswar Malakar and Sadha Hojai. The ABSU and the AASAA units of Udalguri district offered full cooperation to the venture.
Wildlife Educator Lisa Mills of North Caroli State University and wildlife biologist Dr Ellen Cheng of USA; Mamatha Satyaraya of Mysore; Som Wangdi, Jigme Dorji, Sangay Dorji and Tenjin Wanchuk, all Chief Forest Officers of Bhutan attended the meeting where EOL was formally launched.