Assam bears brunt of man-elephant conflicts

Photo for representation.
Be it crackers, kerosene lights or modern gadgets nothing seems to have made much difference to check the growing problem of man-elephant conflicts in Assam.
The state government on Thursday informed the state Assembly that 359 people died in 1,169 incidents of man-elephant conflicts in the past three years. Information tabled in the Assembly said wild elephants also destroyed properties belonging to 12, 950 families during the same period.
It said wild jumbos had killed 263 persons in 2016 and the number increased to 398 in 2017. The human casualties stood at 293 in 2018 while 215 people have died so far this year. "The number this year will further go up as wild elephants are frequently coming down from the hills for food and water and carrying out destruction in human habitation," said forest personnel.
Replying to questions by Congress MLA Debabrata Saikia, documents tabled in the Assembly by Assam forest minister Parimal Suklabaidya on Thursday said anti-depredation squad had been formed in each district. The squad used crackers, kerosene lights to chase away wild elephants while solar fencing were also put up in some places. It said training had also been provided to train drivers, other railway personnel and electricity department personnel to check jumbo deaths in train hits and in electrocution. 
"We have also received permission from the Centre for radio-collaring of five wild elephants to check man-elephant conflicts in vulnerable locations. Funds have also been sanctioned for procurement of night vision devices and process is on to install sensor-based barriers in Kaziranga National Park to monitor the movement of elephants and other wild animals," it said.
The document showed Sonitpur, Golaghat, Nagaon, Karimganj, Tinsukia, Karbi Anglong and Golapara reported a maximum number of man-elephant conflicts during the three years.
The state forest department faced much criticism after a wild elephant died in its captivity earlier this month days after it was tranqualised in Goalpara district in western Assam by Padma Hazarika, a BJP MLA. 
According to wildlife activists, loss of forest cover and encroachment in the forest land are the two major causes of increasing man-elephant conflicts in the state. The forest department also tabled statistics in the Assembly on Thursday, which said that 3,779 square kilometre of forest land in the state were under encroachment.
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