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Former ultras to help reduce man-elephant conflict

By Mayukh Goswami

INDO-BHUTAN BORDER, Sept 22 � Mantu Mazumdar, Durga Boro, Jagannath Bania, Feilao Boro, Dipu Hazarika, Bhaity Deka, Deba Kanta Bordoloi, Ajay Narzary � all are ex-members of militant outfits, either ULFA or NDFB, who once left jungles, are going back to jungles along with their associates. Now-a-days they are very much available in the jungles of Barnadi Wildlife Sanctuary and Khalingduar Reserve Forest along the Indo-Bhutan border of the undivided Darrang district. But don�t misunderstand! They have gone back to jungles neither to set up training camps for militancy nor for illegal felling of trees but for a noble cause of providing natural food to wild elephants as an instant measure for reducing the alarming rise of the man-elephant conflict in those areas. They have been voluntarily distributing banana trees and salts at 4/5 different locations within the forest where wild elephants come regularly.

While talking to this correspondent, the former militants said that in one time banana trees in five loaded trucks and around 25 quintals of salts collected voluntarily from a distance of about 30 kms have been supplied.

The move taken under the ground level supervision of SDPO, Bhergaon subdivision, Taburam Pegu and well assisted by the people of Rajagarh, Nalapara, members of nature organisation Pigmy Hog Eco Tourism Society of Bornadi WLS, local media organisation along with Bikon Chandra Deka and Rajen Gogoi, the two elephant loving senior officials from nearby tea estates Bhutichang and Nonaipara respectively has already proved fruitful. According to them, since the move initiated on September 10 last, no incident of man-elephant conflict has been recorded barring the unprecedented incident of Amrit Sarma (not Madan Sarma as reported on September 15 issue), a forest staff of Nonaipara Forest Range,who was killed by wild elephant on September 14 while searching for illegal tree fellers within the forest.

The members of the voluntary group claimed that the wild elephants numbering not less than 250 and in 5/6 different herds which often engaged themselves in conflict with the surrounding villagers while searching for food have stopped moving down to the residential areas. With their few initial moves found effective, the voluntary group has become very much focused on the subject and has expressed their determination to continue their efforts for this whole harvesting season.

They have also undertaken subsequent other short-term measure like creating awareness among the villagers and motivate themselves for peaceful co existence with elephants as before, applying mixture of cow-dung and dry chilli as means to disperse wild herds as well as few long term measures like construction of some high observation points called �Tongis� and cultivating high grass, banana trees, etc. so as to ensure food for the wild animals.

It may well be mentioned that with the recent death of the forest staff Amrit Sarma, the number of persons killed by wild animals in last two years has reportedly gone upto to 17. On the contrary during this period of conflict, 23 wild elephants have reportedly been killed by man through electrocution, poisoning, etc.

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Former ultras to help reduce man-elephant conflict

INDO-BHUTAN BORDER, Sept 22 � Mantu Mazumdar, Durga Boro, Jagannath Bania, Feilao Boro, Dipu Hazarika, Bhaity Deka, Deba Kanta Bordoloi, Ajay Narzary � all are ex-members of militant outfits, either ULFA or NDFB, who once left jungles, are going back to jungles along with their associates. Now-a-days they are very much available in the jungles of Barnadi Wildlife Sanctuary and Khalingduar Reserve Forest along the Indo-Bhutan border of the undivided Darrang district. But don�t misunderstand! They have gone back to jungles neither to set up training camps for militancy nor for illegal felling of trees but for a noble cause of providing natural food to wild elephants as an instant measure for reducing the alarming rise of the man-elephant conflict in those areas. They have been voluntarily distributing banana trees and salts at 4/5 different locations within the forest where wild elephants come regularly.

While talking to this correspondent, the former militants said that in one time banana trees in five loaded trucks and around 25 quintals of salts collected voluntarily from a distance of about 30 kms have been supplied.

The move taken under the ground level supervision of SDPO, Bhergaon subdivision, Taburam Pegu and well assisted by the people of Rajagarh, Nalapara, members of nature organisation Pigmy Hog Eco Tourism Society of Bornadi WLS, local media organisation along with Bikon Chandra Deka and Rajen Gogoi, the two elephant loving senior officials from nearby tea estates Bhutichang and Nonaipara respectively has already proved fruitful. According to them, since the move initiated on September 10 last, no incident of man-elephant conflict has been recorded barring the unprecedented incident of Amrit Sarma (not Madan Sarma as reported on September 15 issue), a forest staff of Nonaipara Forest Range,who was killed by wild elephant on September 14 while searching for illegal tree fellers within the forest.

The members of the voluntary group claimed that the wild elephants numbering not less than 250 and in 5/6 different herds which often engaged themselves in conflict with the surrounding villagers while searching for food have stopped moving down to the residential areas. With their few initial moves found effective, the voluntary group has become very much focused on the subject and has expressed their determination to continue their efforts for this whole harvesting season.

They have also undertaken subsequent other short-term measure like creating awareness among the villagers and motivate themselves for peaceful co existence with elephants as before, applying mixture of cow-dung and dry chilli as means to disperse wild herds as well as few long term measures like construction of some high observation points called �Tongis� and cultivating high grass, banana trees, etc. so as to ensure food for the wild animals.

It may well be mentioned that with the recent death of the forest staff Amrit Sarma, the number of persons killed by wild animals in last two years has reportedly gone upto to 17. On the contrary during this period of conflict, 23 wild elephants have reportedly been killed by man through electrocution, poisoning, etc.