The Udalguri district, under Bodoland Territorial Area Districts (BTAD), has witnessed a steady rise in human-elephant conflict over the past decade.
The illegal human encroachment in the age-old elephant corridors of Udalguri district bordering Bhutan has posed serious threat to ecology of the district.
Unabated felling of trees in Khalingduar Reserve Forest and Bornadi Wildlife Sanctuary has led to destruction of the green cover compelling wild elephants to roam in human habitats. The Indo-Bhutan border region is fraught with human-animal conflicts resulting in deaths of several elephants and human lives since the 1980s and such incidents have been continuing to take place in the district.
In the last 24 hours, two separate incidents of man-elephant conflict have jolted the Indo-Bhutan border populace.
Two persons were killed and one was injured critically in wild jumbo attack within last 24 hours in Garuajhar area under Panery Police Station in Udalguri.
As per reports, one 48-year-old tea garden labourer, identified as Pitus Tigda, was trampled to death in Uttar Garuajhar area on Monday night.
In another incident, a mother-son duo was attacked at Niz Garuajhar on Tuesday morning.
A 24-year-old youth, identified as Ashraful Ali, succumbed to his injuries while his mother, 55-year-old Meharjan Begum, has been battling for life.
Forest sources claimed that a makhana (male elephant without tusk), which is hell-bent on causing harm, is behind both the incidents. It has claimed many human lives in the recent past.
“In last one year alone, Udalguri has witnessed seven human and eight wild elephant deaths due to man-elephant encounters. It is obvious that an increasing human population in a critical wildlife habitat is one of the main reasons for the conflicts,” said Nabajyoti Baruah, a well-known wildlife activist of Udalguri.
Baruah further stated, “The food resources of elephants are shrinking. Each animal needs at least 100 sq km of forest space and food in it for foraging, but now that space is getting lesser and lesser. Where else can they go?”
The wildlife activist alleged negligence on the part of the Government and lack of proper policies for failure to resolve the man-elephant conflicts.
He strongly advocated that the people be prepared to handle man-animal conflicts better and the Forest Department should help the local vigilant groups in keeping a tab on the movements of jumbos.
Wildlife activist Baruah also stated that the Government should adopt long-term strategies like planting saplings of bananas, jackfruits and bamboos in the elephant corridors and reserve forests, which in the long run would act as fodder for wild elephants and would help in minimizing the casualties.
Baruah was conferred the C Subramaniam Award for Community Leadership by the National Foundation for India (NFI) under the Ministry of Security and Justice of Government of India for 2016-17 for his voluntary association with community-level awareness programmes on man-elephant conflict mitigation in the region.
The nature-loving people and conscious citizens have exhorted the government to take necessary steps to mitigate the jumbo menace.