Stone Mining and the escalating conflicts between man and wildlife in Kaziranga

Representative Image

Guwahati, January 9: Unabated stone mining on the Karbi Anglong Hills, around the Kaziranga National Park (KNP) and Tiger Reserve (TR), which is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site, has been alleged to have resulted in deterioration in the well being of elephants and other wildlife around the neighbourhood of this National Park.

In a notification dated on August 10, sent out by the Department of Environment and Forests, it was mentioned that the Task Force Committee, constituted by the State’s Department of Environment and Forest, would prepare a comprehensive mining plan along with preparation of restoration strategies for the damaged animal corridors in the areas surrounding the KNP. However, the Task Force Committee has not met since September 8, 2015.

Reportedly, the Director of the KNP in the meeting held on September 8, 2015, discussed various issues concerning Kaziranga, including corridor degradation, destruction of the watershed, habitat fragmentation, and so on, while underlining the danger that lurks in unscientific mining and quarrying carried out around the areas of KNP.

It may be noted that the then Director of the National Park in his June 18, 2003, letter, addressed to the then Chief Conservator of Forests (Wildlife), had mentioned how detrimental effect of quarrying along the hills in Karbi Anglong was quite evident in terms of the increasing erosion, vanishing streams, loss of valuable flora and fauna and destruction of the natural habitats for the wildlife and so on.

It has been further reported that there is constant mining activity being carried on along the Karbi Anglong Hills adjacent to the NH 37, which has disturbed the natural movement of elephants using the passage. The continually decreasing forest-cover due to the mining of stone from the hills along with the sound pollution produced by the mining operations has forced the elephants to enter human settlements and destroy their crops and houses.

This trend, if not checked could prove to be detrimental to the well being of the animals and might have an irreversible impact on the conservation and protection of wildlife that might further result in wiping out one-horned rhinos forever.