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Man-elephant conflict on rise in Udalguri

2 killed, 1 injured in jumbo attack

A Correspondent
TANGLA, May 29: The Udalguri district, administered by the Bodoland Territorial Council (BTC), has witnessed a steady rise in human-elephant conflict over the past decade. The illegal human encroachment in the age-old elephant corridors of Udalguri district has posed serious threat to ecology of the district since long. The unabated felling of trees in Khalingduar Reserve Forest and Bornadi Wildlife Sanctuary, has led to destruction of the green cover which has compelled wild elephants to roam in human habitats. The Indo-Bhutan border region are fraught with human-animal conflict and bloodshed since the 1980s and continue to witness fierceness of wild jumbos. Two separate tragic incidents of man-elephant conflict have jolted the border populace, evoking fear for their safety and security. Two persons were killed and one left critically injured by wild jumbo within the last 24 hours in Garuajhar area under Panery Police Station in Udalguri. Pitus Tigda (48), a tea garden labourer was trampled to death in Uttar Garuajhar area on Monday night. In another incident, a mother-son duo was attacked at Niz Garuajhar on Tuesday morning. The son, Ashraful Ali (24) succumbed to his injuries while the mother, Meharjan Begum (55) is battling for her life. Forest sources claimed that a mischievous loner makhana (tuskless male elephant) is behind both the incidents. It has also claimed many human lives in the recent past.

“In the last one year alone, Udalguri has witnessed seven human and eight elephant deaths due to man-elephant encounters. It is obvious that an increasing human population in a critical wildlife habitat is one of the main reasons,” said Nabajyoti Baruah, a known wildlife activist of Udalguri. He further said, “The elephant’s food resources are shrinking. Each animal needs at least 100 sq. km. of forest space and food in it for foraging, but now that space is getting lesser and lesser. Where else can they go?”
He further lamented the negligence and detrimental policies of the government towards resolving the menace. He strongly advocated that the only feasible option was to prepare people to handle man-animal conflicts better and the forest department should help local vigilant groups in keeping a tab on the movement of jumbos. He also states that government should adopt long-term strategies like planting saplings of banana and jackfruit, bamboo species in elephant corridors and reserve forests, which in the long run would act as fodder for wild elephants and go a long way in minimizing the causalities.

About the author

Ankur Kalita