DIMAPUR, July 19 - Human-elephant conflicts in Wokha district of Nagaland have witnessed a rise and are increasing year by year, Wokha divisional forest officer Zuthunglo Patton said in a recent report.
As per the nationwide Synchronized Elephant Population Estimation 2017 conducted by Union Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change, Nagaland has an elephant population of 446 and elephant density per square kilometre in the State is 0.45. This is the second highest density of elephants per sq km after Karnataka, Patton said in his report.
Due to increasing reports of incidences 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 to wild animals for compensation, 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, etc., which was valued at more than Rs 17 lakh, the DFO said, adding only partial reimbursement was made to the affected people by the Wildlife wing of 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 Government Middle School building at Mungya. The crops or property damaged included paddy fields, vegetables, banana, farm huts, rubber, etc.
The DFO said with an ever-increasing human population leading to increasing fragmentation of habitat for the elephants, incidences 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, indicates not only a bleak future for the farmers and rubber cultivators but also for the survival of these animals in the district unless these issues are seriously addressed, the report added.