Guwahati: Assam continued to struggle with rising human-animal conflicts with jumbos being the worst victims. On Wednesday too, in a tragic incident, a wild elephant died due to electrocution in Assam’s Kokrajhar district.
The incident took place at the Peripur area in the Gossaigaon area of the district, when the jumbo came in contact with a live wire that was exposed from its pole.
Recently, a carcass of a wild elephant was recovered from a river at Numaligarh in Golaghat district also. It was suspected that the elephant died after stumbling into an illegally dug sandpit.
The situation has been so grim that during the assembly session in March, the state’s then forest environment and forest minister Parimal Suklabaidya said, “Over the last 10 years, a total 924 elephants were killed in the human-animal conflict in the state.”
Official statistics said that Assam lost some 129 elephants due to electrocution during the period. The state stood first with 62 deaths due to train hits and reported the highest number of 32 elephants being poisoned during the period.
At least 15 elephants were killed in Assam on railway tracks between 2019 and 2021, as per government data.
“As many as 924 people got killed, while around 772 people injured in man-elephant conflicts in Assam in the last 10 years”, Suklabaidya added.
The conflicts were mostly reported from 16 districts of Goalpara, Sonitpur, Biswanath, Nagaon, Hojai, Udalguri, Baksa, Majuli, Golaghat, Jorhat, Lakhimpur, Chirang, Tinsukia, Kamrup, Darrang and Sivasagar.
Though there were efforts being taken by both government and wildlife groups to reduce the human-animal conflicts, the confrontation seemed inevitable with shrinking habitat of the pachyderm due to human encroachment and reducing forest cover.
Tactics like using low-intensity solar barbwires, setting up beehives along paddy fields, and even installing biofences, growing lemon trees have been used by farmers in the state to keep the jumbos away from their farmlands.
However, lack of support and funding from the authorities have forced the farmers to use traditional tactics like using firecrackers and firing as well as poisoning the animals in many instances.
“To reduce man-elephant conflict and to avoid retaliatory killing of elephants, compensation is provided to local communities for loss of their property and life,” said a forest official adding that a hike in ex-gratia compensation for the loss of life due to human-animal conflict from Rs. 2 lakhs to Rs. 5 lakhs was also approved by the government to reduce the retaliatory killing of the jumbos.
Assam is home to around 5,719 Asian elephants, the second highest elephant population across the country.