Jadav Payeng
jadav Payeng being felicitated during Rongali Bihu celebations in Mangaldai

Rapid deforestation and lack of necessary regulations by the Union government to conserve forests has led to the increase in man-animal conflict in Assam, renowned nature conservationists Jadav Payeng said.

Paying who is known as the ‘Forest Man of India’ was at Mangaldai in Assam’s Darrang district on April 15, where he was felicitated at Mangaldai Central Rongali Bihu Sanmilan with a Bihuwan, a memento and a citation letter.

“The government of India has no such guideline to address the problem of food for wild elephants. One elephant needs three quintals of food and ninety litres of water per day,’ said the Padma Shri recipient.

Also read: Community involvement is must to reduce man-animal conflict: Assam CM

“The elephants venture into human habitation because of lack of habitat and food, leading to increased instances of man-animal conflict in the state,” he said.

Payeng narrated how wild monkeys and elephants now live in the 2000 hectares of forest land that he planted.

These animals feed on the ample of fruits and plants available in the forest and drink water from the nearby Brahmaputra, which has minimized their need to venture out of the surrounding villages for want of food.

“A grown-up Sagun tree doesn’t allow any other plants, even grass to grow in nearby areas. That’s how growing the local variety of fruit plants which once happened to be a major source of food for the monkeys stopped growing,” Payeng further said.

The nature conservationist also spoke on various relevant issues ranging from Assam’s rich biodiversity to the growing threats of global warming.

“The students from an early stage should be given the responsibility of planting a sapling and nurturing it for the next five years. This will imbibe in him the habit of protecting the trees and animal,” Payeng said.

Payeng also emphasized the need to involve local communities, particularly educated youths in protecting the forest.

He also highlighted how such practices in Kerala have not only stopped deforestation and also created major job avenues for local youths through small tourism boosting businesses.

Mayukh Goswami is Northeast Now Correspondent in Mangaldai. He can be reached at: mayukh.mld@gmail.com