A statistics that could raise eyebrows of the environmentalists, more than 3555 Sq Km area in the notified Reserve Forest and Protected Area in Assam area under encroachment. This results wild animals including elephants deserting forests and hunt for human habitat.
Government statistics said that as many as 100 elephants have unnatural deaths in Assam.
“It is a fact that construction activities, deforestation, have adversely affected the natural habitat of elephants. Fragmentation and deforestation have severely affected the animal including the elephants. The total estimated area under encroachment in the notified Reserve Forest and Protected Area in Assam is about 3555 Sq. Km (13.29 percent of the total notified area) have also affected the habitat of elephants by way of fragmentation,” a senior official in the ministry of environment and forests said.
As per the Assam government reports, 100 elephants have died unnaturally during the year of 2013 to 2016. As many as 23 elephants have died in 2013, 26 in 2014, 20 in 2015 and 31 elephants died in 2016.
Financial and technical assistance is provided to elephant range states under the Centrally Sponsored Schemes ‘Project Elephant’, to protect elephants, their habitat and corridors, to address issues of man-elephant conflict and welfare of captive elephants.
In addition financial assistance is provided to the State and Union Territory Governments under the Centrally Sponsored Schemes of ‘Integrated Development of Wildlife Habitats’ and Project Tiger, for providing better protection to wildlife including leopards and improvement of habitat.
The ministry, so far, has established 29 Elephant Reserves in 14 major elephant states.
“To improve the habitat in the degraded notified areas plantations are being raised as an alternative step. In the northern landscape of Assam (which is mostly degraded) plantation has been raised in 90 hectare in Sonitpur east division, 450 hectare in Sonitpur west division, 642 hectare in Lakhimpur division and 365 hectare in Dhemaji division,” the official said.
Dispur has constituted co-ordination committee by involving all stakeholder, civil and police administration, divisional forest officers of territorial and wildlife wing, block development officer, gaonburahs and gram panchyat presidents, village defence parties, representative of NGO’s, head masters of schools, stations masters of railway stations, PWD (roads), district transport officers etc.