Elephants killed 761 in Assam since 2010

An elephant of the Assam Forest department wades through flood waters in Jakhalabandha area in Koliabor, some 186km from Guwahati, the capital city of India’s northeastern state of Assam on August 13, 2017. / AFP PHOTO

The spotlight has fallen on Assam as the state witnesses a growing number of human-elephant conflicts. Since 2010, 761 people and 249 jumbos have lost their lives. 

Assam government on Thursday informed the state Assembly that the number of human deaths had increased from 61 in 2010 to 92 in 2018. Already, three people have died in elephant attacks so far this year.

Most of these casualties have been reported from the districts of Sonitpur, Udalguri, Baksa, Golaghat, Nagaon, Goalpara and Karbi Anglong.

According to wildlife activists, a rise in the encroachment of forest areas has caused habitat loss, forcing the pachyderms to come down to the plains in search of food and water, which has caused human deaths including the destruction of houses and crops.

Most of these deaths have been reported in areas dominated by tribal people and tea garden workers.

The data tabled in the Assembly said that 1,021 houses were damaged by wild elephants in 2017-18 but the number went up to 2,034 in 2018-2019.

Similarly, 754.89 hectares of cropland have been damaged in 2018-19, the number was 260.53 hectare in 2017-18.

The tuskers too are on the receiving end. The number of elephant deaths has also increased from 25 in 2010 to 46 in 2017 and 27 in 2018.

Of the 249 elephant casualties, 92 died due to electrocution, 54 were mowed down by trains, 20 fell victim to poaching, 53 died in accidents and 30 were killed due to poisoning.  

"In order to reduce the conflicts, elephant depredation squad has been formed in each district, comprising officials of district administration, local villagers and NGOs. Solar fencing has also been installed in some places. But the problem is becoming more serious day by day," a document tabled by the state forest department said.

Aaranyak, a wildlife conservation NGO based in Guwahati, recently called the state government to declare the man-elephant conflict a disaster, as done by Uttar Pradesh government and work out a multi-agency strategy to reduce the problem.

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Elephants killed 761 in Assam since 2010

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