Agartala: After a hiatus of one month, a herd of wild elephants was once again sighted closer to the human settlements located in Teliamura under the Khowai district of Tripura.
The return of the wild elephants prompted panic among the local villagers. Soon after the sightings of the elephants, the local ADS (Anti Depredation Squads), formed mainly to mitigate threats posed by man-animal conflict, and local volunteers were put on high alert.
Sources in the forest department said that late on Monday night, a herd of ten elephants entered the Krishnapur area. “Soon after the sighting, ADS team members were informed by elephant watchers engaged at the village level. The team rushed to the spot and patrolled the area till the herd crossed the area,” a forest department official said.
Villagers of the area also alleged that owing to the rampant felling of trees by the timber smugglers the forest cover is facing substantial losses for the last couple of years. Resultantly, the wild elephants are facing an acute shortage of fodder which is why they are straying out of the jungles in search of food.
To study the man-animal conflict areas of Tripura, a team of experts recently paid a visit to Teliamura and held meetings with the local stakeholders. Some preliminary recommendations were made in the meeting and works are in progress.
Proposals are also placed to do radio collaring of the wild elephants. District Forest Officer Khowai Jaya Ragul Geshan B said that on a pilot basis, two male elephants would be radio collared to monitor the movement of elephants. Apart from that, some sensor based technology is also devised to track the movement of wild jumbos.
Speaking about Monday’s incident, ADS team leader Ratan Biswas said, “We have received an input that wild elephants have entered the North Krishnapur area through the North Maharani route. When the elephants came closer to the human settlement we had been informed by our volunteers and villagers. We reached here to see a herd of ten elephants crossing the road and seven more are following in their footsteps. As long as the elephants stay close to the human settlement, we will be here to guard the area.”
On being asked about the route of the elephants, he said, “These elephants went to the Nabanjay area a month back. After one month the herd is now again returning towards Teliamura. Now they will cover the areas like Champlai, Chakmaghat and within a few weeks they will return towards Nabanjay area”.
When asked regarding the reason behind elephant depredation, he said, “The main reason is shortage of food in the forest areas which led the wild tuskers to come out of the forest.”
To query regarding efforts of the forest department to minimize the threat of elephant attacks, he said, “The higher authorities are more aware of the technical issues. We are always after the elephants as per the directions we receive. Whenever we receive information of elephant herds, we rush there to make sure that human property is not damaged by the tuskers.”
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