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Two reserves to save Tripura elephants

Agartala, Nov. 25: Elephants, once an integral part of Tripura’s history, have dwindled in number along with the state’s once-rich forest cover.

At present, the number is down to only 40, according to the last animal census.

The state government is opening two elephant conservation centres to save the animals from total extinction.

Forest minister Jiten Chowdhury told reporters that the elephant conservation centres would open at Gandhari near Udaipur subdivision of South Tripura and at Atharomura hill ranges between Teliamura and Ambassa subdivisions of West Tripura and Dhalai districts.

“We have got land for the conservation centres, as the indigenous people in both the areas have come forward to help in the conservation process,” said Chowdhury.

He conceded that with the decline in forest cover, elephants have lost their natural habitat and sources of food and, hence, come down to paddy fields and human habitations.

“Over the past six years, at least 10 people have lost their lives to rampaging elephants. Once the conservation centres come up, there might be a solution to this problem,” said the forest minister.

He added that the Union ministry of forests and environment has agreed to sanction funds for the elephant conservation centres.

“The Centre has already notified Sipahijala wildlife sanctuary and Trishna wildlife sanctuaries as national sanctuaries for conservation of the spectacled monkey and wild bison respectively,” said the minister.

On the growing scarcity of bamboo in the state, Jiten said the forest department would cultivate bamboo on 40,000 acres of forestland.

A “Bamboo Mission” has been launched in co-operation with the Tripura Forest Development and Plantation Corporation.

“Our current demand for bamboo is 1.25 lakh metric tonnes but this will go up to 2.30 lakh metric tonnes soon. We are also building a bamboo park in Tripura, which will be the first of its kind in the country,” said Chowdhury.