Elephant herd
A herd of wild elephants quenching their thirst at a river in Udalguri district.

Udalguri:  The drying up of natural water bodies due to increasing temperature has made it hard for wildlife, especially elephants to sustain.

The dearth of natural water bodies has left herds of wild elephants grappling in search of water in Assam’s Udalguri district.

A herd of wild elephants, that descended down from the Indo-Bhutan border mountain in search of water have sheltered in Rajagarh and Nalapara villages under the Nonai Forest Division Assam’s Udalguri district.

Though there have been no reports of human-elephant conflict or damage to houses or crops by the herd of elephants, the incident of death of two jumbos believed to be separated from the herd and falling into wells has raised concerns of wildlife conservationists and conscious circles.

In the first incident, a jumbo separated from a herd which is taking shelter in Budlapara T.E. died after falling into a well in No. 2 Bholatar village near Dimakuchi in Udalguri district on the night of June 6. The jumbo is aged about 4-5 years.

In another incident, a jumbo believed to be of the same herd aged about 4-5 months fell into a well in Budlapara T.E purportedly in search of water on the night of June 7.

Talking to this correspondent, wildlife conservationist Nabajyoti Baruah said, “Elephant herds use water sources and the water level has drastically decreased and the natural sources of water have dried due to scorching heat.  Though the adult elephants manage to quench their thirst but the jumbos are prone to be attracted to the artificial waterholes like wells and ditches in search of water.”

He further said, “As artificial waterholes maintain water availability during the dry season it is time the Assam Forest Department must adopt measures to build artificial water bodies with solar-powered pumps which can provide relief to elephants in the scorching heat.”

Sources in the forest department said that an NGO had proposed for setting up of such an artificial water dam with a solar motor in Bornadi Wildlife Sanctuary but the project didn’t see the day of light as the wildlife sanctuary falls under the Manas Tiger Project which is a protected zone where such activity requires a nod from higher-ups of the forest department.

According to official data, a total of three elephants have died in the Nonai Forest Division of Udalguri district.

Shajid Khan is Northeast Now Correspondent in Udalguri. He can be reached at: itsshajidkhan@gmail.com