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UP villagers form Assam-style squads to keep elephants away

Lakhimpur Kheri (UP), Jan 14, 2013, PTI: 1:20 IST
In a bid to check the menace created by elephants coming from Nepal to Dudhwa here, villagers with the help of experts from Assam have formed anti-depredation squads to reduce the man-animal conflict.

“A group of experts from Assam led by Hiten Baishya visited Dudhwa, surveyed the elephant-affected villages and submitted their recommendations three months back. The group relying on their Assam experiences, where elephant menace is a frequent feature held talks with the villagers and persuaded them to form anti-depredation squads,” WWF-India coordinator Mohit Gupta said.

Permanent abode

Rich aquatic resources, a healthy forest cover and adequate protection levels have attracted the migratory elephants of Nepal to such an extent that they have now made the Dudhwa Tiger Reserve their permanent abode.

For the last few years, these elephants have been entering into the human settlements, raiding the crop-fields and damaging hutments, Gupta said.

To deal with this menace, the experts have recommended forming such ADS without causing any harm to wildlife, he added.

Villagers will be imparted training about the nature and behaviour of elephants and the ways to ward them off away from human settlements, Gupta said.

Deputy director, DTR Ganesh Bhat said initially the ADS groups would be formed in the three most affected villages of Tanda, Bhagwantnagar and Baudhiya Kalan, where 15 villagers have been kept in each squad.

Equipped with gadgets

The squads equipped with searchlights, communication handsets and other devices would man the watchtowers erected on the treetops, Bhat said.

“In case of raiding of wild elephants, the squad members would intimate the Dudhwa authorities and the WWF experts, who would rush to site to drive away the elephants back to forests,” the deputy director said.

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