*Mrinal Kanti Banik
Agartala, Jun 30, 2019: For animal lovers, the state of Tripura is always considered to be one of the preferred destinations of all time. And, if you love to see herds of wild jumbos marching in the forest, you should have never missed this part of the land which has preserved one of the well-known species of Asian Elephants.
In Tripura, the land known for diverse forest cover and bio-diversity, elephants are considered to be an integral part from time immemorial. In the historical contexts too, elephants always claimed a predominant chapter of co-existence with the people of the state since long.
But, unfortunately, the number jumbos dwindled in the past drastically for some unforeseen reasons. According to some reports, the number of wild elephants reduced to 40 in the year of 2012, moreover, reports of illegal smuggling of tusks and repeated human-elephant conflicts also started pouring in. Alarmed by which, the forest department of the state, initiated measures to safeguard the animal from the verge of extinction.
Right now, the number of elephants in Tripura grown up a little if compared to yesteryears. Since last four years, the number is static—more than 60. Though, the government of India had shown that the number of elephants in Tripura at 102, but forest officials believe the number is near 60 to 65. And if everything falls in the right direction, the number might increase in the near future, hoped Chief Wild Life Warden DK Sharma while speaking to this correspondent.
Clarifying the dissimilarities, he said, since nobody can go close to the wild elephants, the counting options are limited. And the number of animals depends on the method of counting.
“Elephants are believed to be the biggest creatures that board a silent life without harming an innocent, of course, not without any reason. But, at the same time, they are the ones who share a greater dominance in the land of forests and require more than others. And, yet they are adequately intelligent, sharp and highly dangerous” Said he adding that thus they were taking strategic steps to save the elephants and also the nearby human habitation through generating awareness.
Speaking on the awareness initiatives, he said, Mungiakami of Khowai district and Maharani of Gomati district are the two main areas where wild elephants are found in a reserved stretch of 30 to 40 Sq. Km. In those areas, we are educating the nearby human population how to deal with elephants. The forest officials of those areas use bee buzzers and dragon lights too distract elephant herds. On the other hand, people are being made aware of using chilly—powder bombs.
The elephants, he said, have very strong sniffing power. They can trace ripe grains and harvest-ready crops from very long distance. And the only way restrict them is to attack on their trunks which highly sensitive. Chili-powder bomb is very useful in this way.
On the conservation issues, he said, the main problem that leads to repeated conflicts between animal and human is human encroachment on the forest land. Now, the department is working to create all the necessary things for the elephants within the forest boundaries. Salt lakes, fodder plantation and bamboos are being grown in the elephant dominated areas for them, so that none of them cross over the limits in search of food, he added.
When asked of the site seeing, he told this correspondent, in both the areas there are no natural barriers. In almost all the other forest areas where animal site seeing points were put up, natural barriers split the main animal’s habitat from the rest of the land giving visitors a scope to enjoy the animals roaming openly in the forest. But, in case of elephant dominated areas, there are no barriers and it is very dangerous to enter the land under their rule, he added. (1st Published in Tripura Times dt June 29, 2019)
*Mrinal Kanti Banik may be contacted at email@example.com