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Rising man-animal clash a cause of concern

By Shambhu Boro
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TEZPUR, Dec 14 - The nature lovers and members of wildlife organisations of Sonitpur district have raised eyebrows over the shrinking habitats of wild animals, continuous human encroachment in reserve forests and acute shortage of fodder which have led to the human-wildlife conflict more often.

They have also expressed their dissatisfaction over the Government�s alleged failure to check the man-elephant conflict that is on the rise in the district for last several years.

Due to the fodder shortage, flood and some other man-made problems, wild elephants in some parts of Sonitpur district like Sonai-Rupai, Nameri National Park and many other adjoining areas have been creating trouble in several villages and tea estates in the northern part of the district encompassing a large area from Panchoi to Behali area.

Nameri National Park and the Sona-Rupai Sanctuary and other reserve forests areas of the district are becoming the hub of timber smugglers, poachers creating an unstable condition in the district for the last few years, as a result of which herds of wild elephants come down to the villages and tea garden areas searching for shelter.

As per reports, the territory of 11 reserve forests in Sonitpur Forest Divisions has shrunk from a total area of 1,13,595.77 hectares to 83,241 in last 10 years. As many as 10, 754 hectares of land has allegedly been encroached by Arunachalis and immigrant locals along the Assam-Arunachal border areas.

Official sources claim that 13,043 hectares of Chardwar Reserve Forest land, 10,000 hectares in Balipara, 7,600 hectares in Biswanath and 7,750 hectares in Nadwar Reserve Forest have been denuded by encroachers living in the vicinity of these reserve forests in the district.

With the encroachment of forest in west and east divisions of the district continuing, elephant herds are frequently intruding into villages near their habitats. The herds have destroyed standing crops and houses worth over Rs 10 crore and killed more than 100 people in the recent past.

The man-animal conflict took a serious turn during 2001-02, with 32 elephants being poisoned, including nine in Nameri National Park under East Sonitpur Forest Division. Some died due to infightings, some others by falling into man-made deep holes and electrocution on fencings erected to protect crops and households.

According to sources, about 90 per cent of the forests have been cleared by the encroachers and these forests in Sonitpur (near Arunachal Pradesh border) have become safe shelters for the militants.

Deforestation and unabated land-grabbing by encroachers have become a major problem as around 1.5 lakh encroachers have already cleared forest properties, including valuable trees and medicinal plants.

However, a senior forest officer, on the condition of anonymity, expressed total dissatisfaction over the concerned department and the Government�s improper measure in checking the ongoing man-elephant conflict in the district.

The officer said that though the Union Ministry of Environment and Forests launched a project �Project Elephant� in 1992 to provide financial and technical support of wildlife management efforts by States for their free-ranging populations of wild Asian elephants with an aim to ensure long-term survival of viable conservation reliant populations of elephants, it has not been executed in a real sense due to rampant corruption in utilising the funds.

Echoing the same, nature organisations, working in the district for sustaining the green forests and the wild elephants and rhinos, said that though the Government should have taken up project for supporting research of the ecology and management of elephants, creating conservation awareness among the local people, providing improved veterinary care for captive elephants, it is not executed in the district.

Meanwhile, the Arunachal Government under the then Chief Minister Gegong Apang, Mukut Mithi and Dorjee Khandu, took up steps and implemented various developmental schemes in disputed areas of Assam and Arunachal Pradesh under its border area development programmes.

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Rising man-animal clash a cause of concern

TEZPUR, Dec 14 - The nature lovers and members of wildlife organisations of Sonitpur district have raised eyebrows over the shrinking habitats of wild animals, continuous human encroachment in reserve forests and acute shortage of fodder which have led to the human-wildlife conflict more often.

They have also expressed their dissatisfaction over the Government�s alleged failure to check the man-elephant conflict that is on the rise in the district for last several years.

Due to the fodder shortage, flood and some other man-made problems, wild elephants in some parts of Sonitpur district like Sonai-Rupai, Nameri National Park and many other adjoining areas have been creating trouble in several villages and tea estates in the northern part of the district encompassing a large area from Panchoi to Behali area.

Nameri National Park and the Sona-Rupai Sanctuary and other reserve forests areas of the district are becoming the hub of timber smugglers, poachers creating an unstable condition in the district for the last few years, as a result of which herds of wild elephants come down to the villages and tea garden areas searching for shelter.

As per reports, the territory of 11 reserve forests in Sonitpur Forest Divisions has shrunk from a total area of 1,13,595.77 hectares to 83,241 in last 10 years. As many as 10, 754 hectares of land has allegedly been encroached by Arunachalis and immigrant locals along the Assam-Arunachal border areas.

Official sources claim that 13,043 hectares of Chardwar Reserve Forest land, 10,000 hectares in Balipara, 7,600 hectares in Biswanath and 7,750 hectares in Nadwar Reserve Forest have been denuded by encroachers living in the vicinity of these reserve forests in the district.

With the encroachment of forest in west and east divisions of the district continuing, elephant herds are frequently intruding into villages near their habitats. The herds have destroyed standing crops and houses worth over Rs 10 crore and killed more than 100 people in the recent past.

The man-animal conflict took a serious turn during 2001-02, with 32 elephants being poisoned, including nine in Nameri National Park under East Sonitpur Forest Division. Some died due to infightings, some others by falling into man-made deep holes and electrocution on fencings erected to protect crops and households.

According to sources, about 90 per cent of the forests have been cleared by the encroachers and these forests in Sonitpur (near Arunachal Pradesh border) have become safe shelters for the militants.

Deforestation and unabated land-grabbing by encroachers have become a major problem as around 1.5 lakh encroachers have already cleared forest properties, including valuable trees and medicinal plants.

However, a senior forest officer, on the condition of anonymity, expressed total dissatisfaction over the concerned department and the Government�s improper measure in checking the ongoing man-elephant conflict in the district.

The officer said that though the Union Ministry of Environment and Forests launched a project �Project Elephant� in 1992 to provide financial and technical support of wildlife management efforts by States for their free-ranging populations of wild Asian elephants with an aim to ensure long-term survival of viable conservation reliant populations of elephants, it has not been executed in a real sense due to rampant corruption in utilising the funds.

Echoing the same, nature organisations, working in the district for sustaining the green forests and the wild elephants and rhinos, said that though the Government should have taken up project for supporting research of the ecology and management of elephants, creating conservation awareness among the local people, providing improved veterinary care for captive elephants, it is not executed in the district.

Meanwhile, the Arunachal Government under the then Chief Minister Gegong Apang, Mukut Mithi and Dorjee Khandu, took up steps and implemented various developmental schemes in disputed areas of Assam and Arunachal Pradesh under its border area development programmes.