Jorhat, Jan. 2: The neighbouring districts of Golaghat and Sivasagar have been witnessing an increase in man-animal conflict in the new year with elephant depredations at Bakial near Numaligarh in Golaghat district and leopard incursions into the Maduri-Mechagarh area in Sivasagar.
Bakial beat officer Dimbeswar Phukan said two huts were damaged late last night at Gutibari in Bakial by a few elephants which had strayed out of Lower Daibung reserve forest.
Phukan said the Bijulee area, in which Bakial is included, often came under elephant attacks as the elephant corridor had been widely encroached upon by setting up a number of tea gardens as well as Numaligarh Refinery.
“The herd of elephants which frequents the place has a number of calves which are not scared of straying into human habitations. The mothers who follow the calves in order to protect them come into conflict with the humans,” he said.
Six days back, a woman had been killed by the elephants.
“The elephants have left after the damage done last night but only a lone tusker has remained behind and we are keeping a watch on it,” the forest guard said.
Residents of the village said elephant depredations that had increased of late were giving them sleepless nights with the forest department not taking any concrete measures to keep them at bay.
At Maduri Gohain Gaon, 5km from Kalugaon where two leopard cubs had been killed and strung up by villagers a few months ago, local residents spotted two adult leopards and two cubs roaming freely. Today, a cow was killed by one of the leopards at a field and the carcass was dragged into a small forested area nearby.
Diganta Borgohain, a resident of the area, said though they had informed the forest department when the leopards were seen, no step had been taken to protect the villagers.
“This place and Mechagarh have witnessed incursions by leopards. A few of them have been trapped by the forest department. This time, however, the villagers were asked to pay for shifting the cage and the bait from some place near Sivasagar which they cannot afford,” Borgohain said.
Borgohain said though this was the birthplace of Joymati Konwari, a princess of the Ahom royal family and later queen of Gadadhar Singha, and the place of origin of state cultural affairs minister Pranati Phukan and Thowra Congress MLA Sushanta Borgohain, the government is not interested in protecting the people.
Lakhimijan beat officer Akshay Borgohain said leopards had come down from the nearby Naga hills to drink water at Namdang rivulet.