Assam’s Forest Minister Chandra Mohan Patowary informed the assembly that over 70 people and 80 pachyderms die every year on an average in human-elephant conflict in the state. The increasing human occupation of natural habitats of elephants has forced the animals to move out in search of food, which leads to conflict with man.
The elephant population in the state is over 5,700 and 1,330 elephants have died between 2001 and 2022, with the highest number of deaths reported in 2013 when 107 pachyderms died, followed by 97 in 2016 and 92 in 2014. Among the various reasons for the deaths, 509 died of natural causes, 261 succumbed to unknown reasons, 202 were electrocuted, 102 died in train accidents, 65 due to poisoning, 40 were poached and 18 after being hit by lightning. The state government has paid about Rs 8-9 crore in compensation for damages caused by the pachyderms.
Sharing information on the state’s river dolphin, Patowary said there were 537 river dolphins in the state in 2020, according to the latest available data. However, 80 river dolphins have died between 2008 and 2023, with 60 killed after being trapped in fishing nets. The minister also informed the House that the total forest land in the state is 26,836 sq km, or 34.21 per cent of the state’s total area, as per Forest Survey of India’s 2021 report. A total of 14,373.913 hectares of encroached forest land has been cleared so far, he added.
The human-elephant conflict has been a growing concern in Assam and other parts of the country. The encroachment of natural habitats, fragmentation of forests, and lack of proper management of elephant corridors have led to this conflict. The state government has taken various measures to address the issue, including setting up of elephant camps, formation of rapid response teams, and compensation for damages caused by the pachyderms. However, more needs to be done to ensure the safety of both humans and elephants and to preserve the state’s rich biodiversity.
Copyright©2023 Living Media India Limited. For reprint rights: Syndications Today