No end to human-elephant conflict in Odisha’s Dhenkanal
According to official sources, 83 elephants have died in the last seven years due to this conflict. Besides, 147 human deaths have been reported during this phase
Dhenkanal: There seems to be no end to human-elephant conflict with cases of jumbo attacks and related deaths continuing to be reported from Dhenkanal district in Odisha. This has also raised posers on the efficacy of various measures undertaken by the Forest department to regulate the movement of elephants and minimise their entry into human habitations.
According to official sources, 83 elephants have died in the last seven years due to this conflict. Besides, 147 human deaths have been reported during this phase despite efforts by forest personnel to minimise the straying of the pachyderms into villages.
Two years back, the department had conceived the “Airavat Bus Yojana” in view of rising incidents of human casualties due to elephant attacks.
Under the new scheme, forest staff and an elephant squad would patrol the forest area in a bus named Airavat and keep a strict vigil on the movement of elephant herds. Apart from driving the herd from the human habitations, the team would also protect the elephants from poachers. Besides, other measures like keeping bee boxes under Project RE-HAB (Reducing Elephant – Human Attacks using Bees) in the passage ways of human-elephant conflict zones to block the entrance of the animals into human habitations, solar fencing of villages near sanctuary areas and installation of automatic sirens near its national highway to protect elephants from accidents were also taken up by the Forest department in the district. However, these pilot measures seem to be failing to catch up with the set goals as deaths of both elephants and people continue to be reported.
Various reasons like deforestation, illegal mining, active timber mafia and poaching are believed to have contributed to this problem.
There are over 300 elephants in Dhenkanal district of which Hindol range alone has 100. However, due to habitat loss and conflict with humans, their population is on the decline. The Forest department needs to introspect why the pilot initiatives are not measuring up. If the pattern continues, elephant population in the district could be at a serious risk, they said.