The move has been taken by the state government to protect the farmlands and the lives of people in both North and South Bengal districts. In recent few incidents the elephants had strayed into farmlands and destroyed crops causing enormous loss to the poor people in the rural areas. In some cases there were reports of the loss of human lives due the elephant attacks.
Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee had expressed her concern in this regard and also asked the forest department to chalk out a comprehensive plan to get rid of elephant menace. The forest department had planned to catch wild elephants and not kill them and it is waiting for the final nod from the Centre.
State forest minister Binay Krishna Burman said that they had written to the Union Environment Ministry seeking permission to catch wild elephants which cause huge destruction of farmland and the loss of human lives. After catching the elephants they will be put at the animals’ rehabilitation centers coming up in two places which will prevent the loss of lives and property.
“To keep the elephants in an isolated place, our department is constructing two enclosures ~ one at Mayurjharna, the bordering areas of Bankura and Purulia and the other in Alipurduar each covering an area of 8 hectors.
Though the enclosures will be set up in artificial way, they will be rich in natural abounds while the elephants will graze freely. All the arrangements including food will be available for the elephants at the enclosures as they find in the forest,” Burman said.
He also said that the state is awaiting the Centre’s final nod in this connection. Once they get the permission they will start the processes of catching the wild elephants. If an elephant is caught from a particular place, the other elephants generally avoid the area.
The Minister also categorically mentioned that they would not kill animals and that is why they would only catch the elephants to save the farmlands and to protect the villagers. “Setting up power sensing at various districts turned futile as the elephants manage to get pass them. Despite of the power sensing, the elephants enter into villages and carry out destruction. The wild elephants have killed over 100 people in the state in the last year among which 71 were from South Bengal,” Burman maintained.
It may be mentioned here that a controversy erupted after Bihar government had engaged professional hunters who killed over 200 Nilgais in a week with the permission of the Centre.
There are around 18 wild elephants in the state. Besides this, many others elephants enter into the state from outside and roam freely in different parts of Bengal. They often damage crops and kill the villagers. Last year crops worth nearly Rs 7 crore were damaged in elephants attack and the state government had to pay compensation for each death.
“We don’t want to kill elephants and hence we will catch and keep them in rehabs in the vast forest area in a natural habitat. We are hopeful that the Center will clear our proposal,” Burman said.