Millennium Post

Karnataka, Uttarakhand to take state's help in handling man-animal conflict

Kolkata: Forest officials from Karnataka and Uttarakhand will take lessons from Bengal on the latter's efficiency in tackling man-animal conflict. The Union government has chosen Chalsa in North Bengal for a five-day training programme where field-level officials from the three states along with experts from the Wildlife Institute of India and noted scientists across the country will join. The training programme will kick off from Monday, coinciding with World Tiger Day (July 29).

"We have earlier had similar programmes involving higher officials of the department to have a coordinated approach on various aspects of forest and wildlife management. But this is for the first time when field-level officers in the rank of District Forest Officer (DFO) and Additional District Forest Officer (ADFO) will be imparted training on reducing the man-animal conflict," a senior official of the state Forest department said.

The programme is a part of the Union government's project for wildlife management which is funded by Germany and the Wildlife Wing of the state Forest department is the nodal agency for the said initiative.

The problem of elephants encroaching into the human habitat is a major problem in Bengal as well as in Karnataka and Uttarakhand. "We have been able to successfully bring down man's conflict with the pachyderms, both in North and South Bengal. Our officials will speak on the Standard Operating Procedures (SOP) that we adopt, the measures that we take for crowd control, how we have trained the villagers in handling such a situation. The programme will also deliberate upon the laws that are relevant in these areas," said Ravikant Sinha, state Chief Wildlife Warden.

Statistics recently compiled by the state Forest department has revealed that persons killed in human-elephant conflict was 89 in 2014-15 and has come down to 52 in 2018-19. The number of persons injured in connection with jumbo attack has also dropped drastically from 102 in 2014-15 to only 33 in 2018-19.

The efforts of the state Forest department have also considerably brought down the damage to crops caused by elephants. 8,340 hectares of farmland was damaged in 2014-15 which has come down to 416 hectares in 2018-19. The damage caused by elephants to village huts has also fallen from 4,357 to 336 in the last five years. Habitat improvement for the jumbos, regular awareness generation campaign, rapid response force of the department, regular training of staff etc are some of the steps that have been taken.

The "Airavat" vehicles that were launched in September 2017 equipped with state-of-the-art equipment for better management of conflict have also yielded good results.

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