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Tripura Forest Department Unveils Multi-Pronged Strategy to curb Human-Elephant Conflict

The Tripura Forest Department is taking decisive action to address the growing problem of human-elephant conflict in Khowai district.

Following a series of incidents involving wild elephants venturing into villages, the department has formulated a comprehensive plan to ensure the safety of both residents and these wild elephants.

Forest Minister Animesh Debbarma announced the plan in Agartala on Tuesday. He emphasized securing central government funding to implement conflict mitigation strategies in Khowai and Gomati districts of the State .

Key Initiatives:

Elephant-Proof Trenches: Deep trenches will be dug along vulnerable areas bordering human settlements and agricultural fields. This physical barrier will deter elephants from entering these zones, preventing crop damage and property destruction.
Live Fencing: Natural fences using ginger, green chilli and lemon seedlings and cactus etc will be planted surrounding vulnerable areas. These live fences will act as a natural deterrent for elephants.

Anti-Depredation Camps: Five dedicated watch towers will be established for round-the-clock monitoring of movement of the wild elephants near the human inhabitants. This will enable forest officials to respond swiftly to elephant activity.

Enhanced Volunteer Program: Fifty volunteers will be recruited in Khowai district. Their remuneration will be increased to match the wages of Protection Labourers (PLs) to incentivize round-the-clock monitoring.

The District Forest Officer (DFO) of Khowai will oversee volunteer selection, prioritizing physical fitness and age limits (up to 45 years) from villages within the affected villages.

Strengthened Anti-Depredation Squad:  The existing Anti-Depredation Squad (ADS) will be bolstered by deploying additional Forest Guards from across the state. Newly trained Forest Guards graduating from the Forest Training Academy in Hatipara will be immediately integrated into the squad.

ADS-Tripura-Human-elephant-conflictThe department will procure specialized equipment to deter elephants in emergency situations. These 'elephant scaring instruments' will be used by the ADS.

Filling Departmental Vacancies: As a long-term solution, the department will actively recruit for vacant Mali-cum-Watcher positions to bolster its capacity in managing human-elephant conflict. 

Confined Area for Elephants: A two-hectare section of forest land will be designated for these wild elephants. It will be ensured that the designated area for the elephants would be equipped with waterholes, feeding sheds, and salt licks to meet the elephants' needs.

Underpasses for Safe Passage: Three locations along the Ambassa-Mungiakami stretch of National Highway 8 (NH-8) and two spots along the Mungiakami-Chakmaghat section have been identified for the construction of underpasses.

These passages will allow elephants and other wildlife to safely cross the highway, reducing the risk of accidents and maintaining crucial elephant corridors. 

Proposals to this end will be submitted to the National Highway Authority of India (NHAI) or National Highways Infrastructure Development Corporation Limited (NHIDCL) for funding, adhering to Forest Clearance (FC) guidelines. 

Notably, several villages in the Teliamura and Kalyanpur sub divisions under the Khowai District witnessed wild elephants' menace. Despite several measures, the issue still persists. 

In search of food, tuskers venture into the villages causing immense property and crop losses. Besides, several villagers were also killed. Local people, for a long time, have been demanding effective measures to end the frequent human-elephant conflicts.

"The new measures will hopefully be able to ensure people's safety as well as welfare of the wildlife", commented a villager.

(Tripura, Tripura News)

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