Man killed by wild elephant in Jhargram, seventh death in 15 days
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Agartala: Wild elephants of Tripura are now wise enough to differentiate between natural and artificial bee buzzing and hence the devices installed to imitate the buzzing of swarms of honey bees are no longer effective to keep the pachyderms away from human settlements, a top official of Tripura Forest department told EastMojo.  

The man-animal conflict has become a perpetual problem for the human settlement close to Tripura’s only elephant habitat in the Teliamura subdivision of the Khowai district. Last year, one person died due to elephant depredation and crops worth lakhs of rupees were destroyed.

“In case of death, we provide Rs 5 lakh compensation to the bereaved family and if crops are damaged, revenue department officials are assigned to prepare an assessment report, based on which the affected families are duly compensated,” the official said.

On an experimental basis, the Tripura forest department recorded the buzzing sound of honey bees to develop bee buzzers–a device that produces sounds akin to beehives.

Speaking on the issue, a highly placed source in Tripura Forest Department said, “The elephants are naturally afraid of honey bees and they always maintain a safe distance from buzzing bees. Whenever we received any hint of elephant herds coming close to the human settlement, these buzzers were pressed and driven by the natural instinct, the elephants used to run away inside the jungle.”

This innovative trick, he explained, was very successful initially as elephant herds were hardly seen straying out from the jungle areas but after sometime, the idea did not work out anymore.

“After a certain period of time, this trick failed to keep the tuskers at bay. Despite keeping the buzzers on for a long time, the elephants did not fall for the trap anymore. In our view, being smart animals, they must have realized the fact that they are only hearing the buzzing sound but none of them ever got stung. This way our tried and tested method is now being put on hold as it does not seem effective anymore,” the official added.

Sources said there are a little over 40 elephants in the jungles of Tripura.

“The population of elephants is rising very slowly and it is natural as they are very slow breeders. Several initiatives are being undertaken to minimize the risks associated with man-animal conflict. Recently, an expert team visited the state to study the conflict areas. We are also planning to do radio collaring of two male elephants so that we can keep a tab on their movement in the jungle areas,” said the official.

Meanwhile, elephant watchers have also been engaged in the job of monitoring the movement of elephants in vulnerable areas.    

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