Human-elephant conflicts in Wokha district have witnessed a rise and are increasing year by year, Wokha divisional forest officer Zuthunglo Patton said in his report on Thursday.
As per the nationwide Synchronized Elephant Population Estimation 2017 conducted by the union ministry of environment, forests and climate change, Nagaland has an elephant population of 446 and elephant density per square kilometer in the state is 0.45. This is the second highest density of elephants per square kilometer after Karnataka, Patton said in his report.
Due to increasing reports of incidents of human-elephant conflict, a joint assessment was carried out in April 2018 by a district level committee to assess the loss of human life, domestic animals, crops and properties by wild animals for compensation in the district, the report said.
The assessment showed that this year alone, 165 families belonging to eight villages of New Changsu, Ekhoyan, Old and New Riphyim, Wokha village, New Wokha, Seleku and Koio were badly affected by the presence of elephants in these areas. The crops or property damaged were paddy, banana, pineapple, orange, sugarcane, vegetables, yongchak, betel nut, rubber, papaya, jackfruit, granary, farm huts, piggery, poultry among others amounting to more than Rs 17 lakh, the DFO said, adding only partial reimbursement was made to the affected people by the wildlife wing of the forest department this year.
The report said the most recent human-elephant conflicts in the district in the month of June and July are reported from the villages of Old Riphyim, New Riphyim, Old Changsu and Mungya affecting 97 farmers and the Government Middle School building at Mungya which have been verified by the department. The crops or property damaged included paddy fields, vegetables, banana, farm huts and rubber.
The DFO said with an ever-increasing human population leading to increasing fragmentation of habitat for the elephants, incidents of human injury or deaths, crop raids, poaching or hunting of elephants will only increase.
Wokha district having a total geographical area of only 1,628 sq km and supporting a staggering 150-180 elephants, it indicates not only a bleak future for the farmers and rubber cultivators but also for the survival of these heritage animals in the district unless these issues are seriously addressed, the report added.