A herd of wild elephants, which has been creating havoc in rural areas of Mebo sub-division in East Siang district of Arunachal Pradesh for last couple of days, damaged several acres of standing paddy crops resulting in heavy losses to the poor farmers.
The tuskers, which reportedly came from nearby Daying Ering Memorial Wildlife Sanctuary in search of food, have destroyed pre-harvest paddy and fruit plants at Mer village in Mebo subdivision.
According to reports, about 10 acres of standing crops were damaged by the herd in the last two days.
Local villagers alleged that even after they reported about the destruction caused by the elephants, the Forest and Wildlife Department officials have not yet taken any effective measures to drive away the herd from the area.
“We are helplessly watching the elephant bully at crop fields as the herd comes out in search of food during night hours, feed on the pre-harvest Sali paddy. We are trying to drive away the hungry elephants from the field but our efforts go in vain,” said Vinode Perme, who was attacked by wild tuskers but luckily escaped from impending danger.
According to the affected people, the herd of pachyderms having at least 200 in number came from Dibru Saikhowa National Park across the Brahmaputra River through lower (Assam) part of Poba Reserve Forest and roamed in Mebo jungles.
There is an elephant corridor linking the national park, Daying Ering Wildlife Sanctuary and reserve forests falling under Pasighat Forest Division.
The wildlife officials on being informed by the affected farmers, visited the affected area and took stock of the loss and crop damaged caused by the wild tuskers. Assuring the farmers of disseminating the report to higher-ups of the State Forest Department in Itanagar, the wildlife officials urged the local villagers not to harm the wild elephants.
“The man-elephant conflict has been increasing in the region due to gradual destruction of elephant habitat and food crisis in the natural forests,” said Divisional Forest Officer (Wildlife) of Pasighat, Tasang Taga.
The rural farmers of Mer village, who have reported about their damaged crops at the office of Pasighat Forest division, have demanded the authority to pay compensation against the damaged crops after proper verification.