Tezpur: Hundreds of villagers in and around Bihaguri area under Borsola LAC in Sonitpur district blocked the NH-15, Tezpur-Guwahati road for about three hours on Saturday in protest against the Forest department’s failure to curb the menace of wild elephants in the areas.
The villagers raised slogans against the government and the forest department demanding immediate steps to prevent elephant menace in their villages. Many families are spending sleepless nights in different belts of Sonitpur district since the past few months due to the chaos caused by wild elephant herds. Elephants have been posing a threat to people, houses and crops in different remote belts in Sonitpur district.
On Friday night, a herd of 80 to 90 wild elephants, including 30 sub-adults, ravaged villagers under Borsola LAC. The jumbos have damaged houses and destroyed acres of paddy crops in areas like Moamari, Bihaguri, Binduguri, Dipota and Bahbari in search of food.
Over the last many years, wild elephants have been wreaking havoc due to shortage of food, habitat shortage, flood and some other man-made problems. People living in the vicinity of Sonai-Rupai Sanctuary, Nameri National Park, sixth addition of Kaziranga National Park and many villages and tea gardens in the northern part of Sonitpur district have been worst affected by the man-elephant conflict.
Following acute shortage of food and habitat problem, the wild herd of tuskers wreaked havoc in Sonitpur district. The herd of rampaging elephants from the forest reserve has caused extensive damage to residential houses. The herd of wild jumbos has intruded and been on the rampage in that area. The wild tuskers are apparently facing a major food and habitat crisis due to shrinking forest land and have entered human habitat in search of food.
On the other hand, official records suggest that some of the wild elephants have died due to fights common among wild tuskers, some others by falling into man-made deep holes and electrocution on fencings raised to protect inhabited areas. However, compounding the growing man-elephant problem, the elephant herds have damaged many dwellings, properties and croplands in Balipara, Rangapara and Chariduar areas, besides claiming human life and cattle in the last couple of weeks.
The three-hour long protest finally ended when Forest Department personnel agreed to visit some of the affected villages and help chase elephants away from their fields. Official sources said that they have made small teams to tackle the herd of elephants. “Whenever elephants try to move towards any of the villages, our squad puts in all effort to send them away towards the forest,” said official sources.