MIRZA, June 6 � The run of misfortunes appears unending for the farming fraternity of the inter-state boundary as after the cultivated paddy fields which are prone to elephant depredations the homestead gardens of the agri-dependent poor people are also facing the wrath of the wild elephants.
From Rani to Rajapara under Rani and Loharghat forests, scores of villages are bearing the brunt of deforestation which is instrumental in squeezing out the elephant�s territory.
The magnitude of damage being no longer affordable, a few farmers whose land is vulnerable to the crop raiders have reportedly left farming. The elephants here have taken to raiding the homestead gardens, devouring the cluster of nut trees and stocks of banana trees.
�My homestead garden dotted with nut trees has suffered huge setbacks when herd of wild elephants ran amuck,� informed Pin Rabha. With the territory of the largest land dwelling mammal coming under exploitative onslaught, migration of the former to the plain areas obviously in search of food and consequent depredation every year has inflicting a blow to the havenots of fringe areas. Chakardeo flanked by the globally important wetland Deepor beel and Rani RF is frequented by heards of wild elephants. Despite losing human lives to the elephant attack the villagers are friendly taking pains to release the stranded elephant calf in their territory.
�Besides devouring harvested paddy from the granary the giants feed on banana trees, nut trees etc.,� 48 years-old Laxmon Teron said and stressed the need of reversing the deforestation drive in order to restore the fragmented habits of the largest mammal.
Conversion of forest land in the hilly terrain for jhum cultivation is also a contributory factor of yearly havoc being created by the elephant in the sparsely inhabited areas. Sonaram Kachari, Maguram Rabha, Prabhat Boro, Dipali Das, Thaneswar Rabha and Shabiram Rabha have been trampled to death in the Rani area in the recent past. Exgratia has reportedly been paid to 31 families of Rani area who have suffered agricultural loss due to depredation.
Recalling the earlier days, a group of senior citizens of Mataikhar area under Loharghat range said: �Clapping of hands used to work in driving away the wild elephants but that is no longer effective. He added that the attempt usually made to deter the crop raiders by making hue and cry, firing crackers and beating drums may invite trouble.
Taking a serious note of the growing man-elephant conflict and the resultant loss of human lives, experienced mahout Pin Rabha said that instead of giving chase, setting fire on a rubber tyre could work. To him, the flame should be tied to a bamboo stick longer in size than the marauding elephants.
To prevent the further loss of human lives in the conflict zone, restoration of lost and fragmented habitat is need of the hour and considering the requirement of large quantities of food plants safe undisturbed territory is of paramount importance. On the other hand, since their source of livelihood is in peril, the predicament demands a pragmatic solution. If their bread winning source is allowed to suffer a mortal blow the already degraded forest cover would bear the brunt.