State Forest dept takes steps to curb jumbo menace
Kolkata: The state Forest department is leaving no stone unturned to check the entry of elephants into human locality. Chief minister Mamata Banerjee in her recent administrative review meetings has instructed the Forest department to take measures to stop elephants from sneaking into human corridor and keep a leash on the incidents of man animal conflict.
"We are procuring as many as 15 specially trained elephants from Karnataka and half a dozen elephants from Andaman & Nicobar Islands who will be deployed to prevent the jumbos from straying into human territory," Forest minister Binay Krishna Burman, told Millennium Post.
A senior official of the department said that they are creating arrangements for water and food at one or two places in the patch forest areas of South Bengal to keep the pachyderms within the confines of the forest.
In North Bengal, elephants enter into the locality from the bordering states of Assam and countries like Nepal and Bhutan as they are often subjected to torture. "In Nepal, the Army often shoots elephants that are violent in nature and they sneak into our territory with bullet wounds. There have been a number of such cases in the last few years when we had treated such injured jumbos. We have held several meetings with our counterparts in the Centre and have urged them to initiate talks in the national level to address this problem," an official said.
Forest officials had observed a pattern among elephants entering into areas of South Bengal from Jharkhand and then travelling to Odisha. However, Odisha has created a canal in the escape route of the jumbos thereby preventing their entry. So once elephants enter our state from Jharkhand, they stay back. "We have been holding talks both in the state level and the national level on this issue," the official added.
In the recently-conducted elephant survey, there has been a sharp rise in elephants in South Bengal. In 2014, the figure was 110 and now it has shot up to 198. An adult elephant on an average consumes 200 kg of dry leaves on a daily basis. "The lack of their requisite food in the forest is also a reason for their foray into human territory," said an expert. The elephants, whenever they encroach into human territory, destroy crops and kaccha houses and also accounts for human deaths.
In the first half of 2017-18, 32 people died in the state in elephant attacks. Recently, the Bengal government acquired four special vehicles for tracking and tranquillising elephants. The vehicle named Airavat are working in forests of Sukna, Malbazar, Madari and Buxa forest divisions in North Bengal.
The vehicles are GPS-enabled and have space to keep tranquilliser guns, which are needed to control marauding elephants. The trucks also have an assortment of slings, nets and iron shackles for lifting an injured elephant or one on a tranquilliser.