Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Conflict elephant rescued from death sentence

Authorities ordered tusker be put to sleep
February 2012: An adult tusker has been relocated to a new area of India's Rajaji National Park after allegations of human/elephant conflict - rescuing it from an official death sentence.
The successful, if complicated, move from Narendranagar Forest Division to the Chilla Range of the park was a joint operation between the Uttarakhand Forest Department, Wildlife Institute of India (WII) and the Wildlife Trust of India (WTI), and is the result of two months of careful planning.
17 deaths
Human elephant conflict has resulted in 17 deaths in the area over the past two years and, after complaints about this tusker, the authorities ordered the animal be put to sleep. But analysis of casualties revealed that most of the killings were accidental and as a result of people venturing inside the forest area or were on roads that are in an elephant corridor. Simultaneously, other options were explored that involved capture and translocation to similar habitat to reduce conflict.
Four-tonne elephant has now been moved across riverIt took three attempts to sedate the elephant - capturing had been unsuccessful on two previous occasions because of unfavourable terrain and conditions. The four-tonne tusker was loaded on a truck and moved 20km across the river Ganga to the pre-selected site.
‘This site has been identified as a rich elephant habitat,' said NN Pandey, Divisional Forest Officer, Narendranagar. ‘It is separated from the capture site by the Chilla Power Channel and its steep embankments and also the river Ganga, minimising chances of the animal returning there. Our task, however, does not end here and the animal shall now be monitored closely by the team.'
Dr Anil Kumar Singh, WTI has been working on human-elephant conflict mitigation for the past 18 years. He feels there is a need to educate and sensitise people to respect wildlife and give it space. Building of physical barriers and deterrents, such as electric fences and trenches, will reduce incidents of elephants entering human habitation.

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