UDALGURI, Dec 5 - An open discourse on man-elephant conflict along the border region of Indo-Bhutan border was held on Friday here at the office premises of Dhansiri Forest division in Udalguri. The discourse-cum-awareness camp was organised by the WWF activists serving in the State in the region of man-elephant conflict zones.
The WWF represented by Hiten Baishya, elephant coordinator, David Smith, Project officer, WWF, Sarkam Rongphar, Asstt Project Officer, Ananta Das addressed the group of forest guards and officials who have been in touch with the disturbed areas along the Bhutan border and suggested a good number of means to combat the elephant menace along the Bhutan border.
Addressing the assembly of forest guards, Hiten Baishya appealed to them to launch a public awareness programme in the border villages with suggestions to use spraying of chilly powder smoke, use of rotating fireball, fire rings, throwing burning crackers with the help of catapults and using the sound of a buzzing beehive to chase away the herd of wild elephants from the croplands of the farmers. Speaking on the occasion, Girindra Adhikari, DFO of Dhansiri division maintained that it was almost impossible to chase the wild elephants from their passages, which have been their corridors since long, but people along the disturbed border region, particularly in the winter season could take a series of protective means, as directed by the WWF. The WWF on the occasion also screened a documentary on protective ways to get rid of the havoc of wild jumbos and distributed raincoats to the forest guards.
Later, on the same day in the evening, WWF officials in association with the DFO of Dhansiri Forest Division of Udalguri district organised a practical demonstration at the forest areas from near the border village of Bhutiachang up to Hatigorh TE with the latest innovative conventional strategies to chase wild elephants away from croplands with least expenditure and labour, which encouraged the border villagers.
Meanwhile, the Dhansiri Forest Division informed that due to acute shortage of manpower, the Dhansiri forest division has not been able to tackle the ongoing menace of wild elephant havoc in the border region of Udalguri district. Talking to this correspondent, Girindra Adhikari said that there are only 64 forest guards in the field along with 19 other casual workers. The employee strength should have been above 140 in the five forest ranges namely Nonoi, Bornadi, Mazbat, Bhergaon and Udalguri and the headquarters beat. The shortage of manpower is known to the concerned authority, but till date no appointments have been made.
It is to be noted that a total of 21 persons have been trampled by wild elephants along the border villages till date this year while six wild elephants became victims of man-elephant conflict. In 2014, 23 villagers were trampled by wild jumbos while ten elephants became victims of the conflict. The conflict has taken a serious turn in some of the border villages in Dimakuchi area of the district recently.