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Villagers relocate to make way for jumbos

Sentinel Digital DeskBy : Sentinel Digital Desk

  |  13 Nov 2015 12:00 AM GMT

New Ram Terang, (Karbi Anglong), Nov 12: Marking a milestone in efforts to secure a crucial elephant corridor in Northeast India, residents of Ram Terang Village have now a new address - "New Ram Terang Village", which is nearing completion. All the 19 families of Ram Terang have willingly and voluntarily decided to relocate outside the Kalapahar-Daigrung elephant corridor to provide safe passage for elephants.

The New Ram Terang Village was dedicated to the memory of Mark Shand, the Founder of the Elephant Family, well-known for its work for welfare of Asian elephants on Wednesday. The colourful ceremony kicked off with a traditiol welcome and the unveiling of terracotta reliefs dedicated to Mark Shand and the people of Karbi Anglong after which the traditiol totem was iugurated.

The handing over ceremony was attended by the EM (Forests) KAAC, Senior forest officials, the CEOs of Elephant Family and Wildlife Trust of India and the Founding Patron of Elephant Family with a galaxy of guests from abroad.

Overwhelmed by the efforts, inspiration and enthusiasm of people, WTI and forest officials, Ruth Powys, CEO, Elephant Family said, "An entire new village comes to fruition today. We have solved a problem both for elephants and people. Elephant Family is proud to be part of this venture. I can feel that Mark is with us today. Now, every child can play here without danger, and every elephant can move without conflict."

The Ram Terang village is located in the middle of a tural corridor used by the elephants to move between Kalapahar and Daigrung-mbor Wildlife Sanctuary in the Kaziranga-Karbi Anglong landscape. It took almost 5 years of continuous efforts by a dedicated team of WTI officials to persuade the villagers of Ram Terang to shift to a new place.

Dr. Abhijit Rabha, Additiol PCCF of Karbi Anglong, has been patronizing this conservation effort since its inception with all possible support from the KAAC to secure this corridor being a first of its kind effort in eastern India.

Khoi Terang, the village headman thanked all the organisations and agencies that made this move possible.

Welcoming voluntary support to the 19 households, Prodip Singr, Executive Member (Forest) of Karbi Anglong Autonomous Council (KAAC) said, "I am so happy to see that the villagers of Ram Terang have voluntarily taken the very pragmatic decision of freeing the area of elephant corridor, and shifting to this new site. I am sure this will motivate other villagers to do the same, and lead a happy life free from elephant conflict"

The villagers will move into the new houses at Christmas. At a distance of 6km from the village is Tokolangso from where 23 households are willing to relocate now that they are convinced. With help from civil society, the council and the government this will be possible to help them take the first step in their march towards development adopting a socially equitable model that works for both humans and elephants.

Thanking the villagers for this unique cooperation, Dr. Jagdish Kishwan, Advisor to CEO&ED of WTI said, "I am proud and happy that my WTI team and villagers of Ram Terang have worked together and developed such a close relationship based on mutual trust and confidence they have decided to voluntarily shift to this location. It will be our endeavour to complete the construction of all houses as quickly as possible."

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