While outlining its contours, critically examine the recently unveiled new regional plan to curb human-elephant conflict in eastern and central India.
Like tigers, elephants are the flagship species of conservation in India. However, only about 20 % of the elephant’s range lies in national parks and sanctuaries. Therefore because of deforestation, elephants are migrating into areas with high human density. This is particularly noticeable in eastern and central India, where elephants have extended their range into areas which had no history of elephant presence. With increasing competition for resources, the instances of man-animal conflict are increasing. Such conflict intensifies when people try to chase animals making them even more aggressive.
In order to reduce man-animal conflict and to ensure peaceful coexistence a new regional plan in eastern and central India is being chalked out. Wildlife wardens of Odisha, Chhattisgarh, Bihar, Jharkhand and West Bengal are collaborating for the first time to resolve a problem. The most peculiar thing about these 5 states is that though they have about 10 per cent of the country’s elephant population but these five states account for over 50 per cent of deaths due to human-elephant conflict.As per the new plan, elephant habitats are divided into three zones:
- Zones with enough forest cover to conserve elephants,
- Zones where humans and animals will co-exist
- Elephant removal zones in agricultural areas.
In the agricultural areas, the plan intends to capture the animals and remove to other forest areas. However, if it fails, then to keep some of the animals in captivity.The success of the program lies in coordination among departments. The key is the optimal utilization of available manpower as most of the departments are already understaffed. Also, officials should be properly trained in tranquillizing and capturing elephants.
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