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No Backing Down? Man-elephant Conflict in Assam Leads to Colossal Loss of Lives

The video captured this dog chasing  a herd of elephants in Golghat district of Assam only to be chased back. (Credit: News18)

The video captured this dog chasing a herd of elephants in Golghat district of Assam only to be chased back. (Credit: News18)

The herd of more than 30-40 elephants have been moving around the Murphulani area of Golaghat for the past one week. According to locals the herd spends the day time in the neighbuoring tea gardens.

A recently shot video captured a herd of wild elephants and a mongrel caught in a ‘verbal standoff’ in Nambar forest of Golaghat district of Assam. Exclusively shot by this News18 reporter, the video showed the dog chasing the herd of wild elephants who seem to be standing in a clearing. An elephant from the herd is seen charging at the dog who runs astray for a bit but then reclaims its position, defying its size as compared to the giant-sized elephants. It’s all about dare here! Though the dog is in no fun mood, nor is the elephant, the video is a cute one. Or at least, till we see much more deeper problems arising out of it.

The herd of more than 30-40 elephants have been moving around the Murphulani area of Golaghat for the past one week. According to locals the herd spends the day time in the neighbuoring tea gardens. In the darkness of the night, the animals venture into villages in search of food and fodder. But the trend of man-elephant conflict has only worsened in the past decades and a stark reminder of this has also been the recent unfortunate incidents involving the animals.

In the last one month and half months, three people including a mother and son were killed by elephants and over 100 houses destroyed. Over 2000 hectare of agricultural was destroyed in Numaligarh area itself. The area is surrounded by Nambor, Doygrung, Bijuli and Deopahar reserve forest which is home to a sizeable population of elephants.

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Official figures show nearly 800 people were killed by wild elephants in Assam between 2006 and 2016. But elephants too have borne the brunt and the loss has been colossal too. In a bid to alleviate some of the conflict, the Assam government has decided to create nine elephant corridors in the eastern part of the state. The decision has been taken after the death of 18 wild elephants in Nagaon district due to a “massive lightning bolt."

An official said that at a high-level meeting, attended by three ministers and several top officials, it was decided to create nine elephant corridors for Kaziranga National Park and Tiger Reserve (KNP & TR).

The committee after making assessment will place its interim report after 15 days and the final report within another fortnight. The meeting also discussed creation of eco-sensitive zones in KNP & TR to provide safe passage to the pachyderms and to ward off man-elephant conflicts.

No new construction shall be permitted on private lands which form part of the nine identified animal corridors," the apex court order has stated. The statement said that the Environment and Forest department had submitted an affidavit to the Supreme Court on the nine identified elephant corridors with geo coordinates. The Supreme Court had asked the department to issue notification of the identified corridors.

At least 18 wild elephants including calves were killed on the night of May 12 in the mountainous Kandali Proposed Reserve Forest (PRF) in Nagaon district of central Assam after being struck by a massive lightning bolt.

According to the latest census, India is home to 27,312 elephants and of them, Assam is home to an estimated 5,719, many of whom constantly come out of the forests in search of food. Set up in 1908, the Kaziranga National Park is one of India’s seven UNESCO world heritage sites and extends across Assam’s Golaghat, Nagaon, Sonitpur, Biswanath and Karbi Anglong districts along the Arunachal Pradesh border.

It is home to more than 2,400 one-horned Indian rhinos, approximately two-thirds of the total world population. Besides rhinos, the KNP & TR has 121 tigers, 1,089 elephants and huge numbers of Asiatic buffalo, swamp deer, wild boar, hog deer, porcupine and other endangered animals and snakes.

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