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Panel pill to reduce jumbo conflict - Experts suggest planting 'deterrent crops' to keep elephants at bay

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By Staff Reporter in Guwahati
  • Published 21.09.09

Guwahati, Sept. 21: A two-member committee has suggested adoption of a systematic approach in areas prone to human-elephant conflicts to determine the efficacy of deterrent crops.

The committee comprising WWF-India official Amit Sharma and B.S. Bonal of the state forest department was set up by Dispur on July 18 last year. It submitted the report recently.

“A systematic approach should be adopted in conflict-prone areas to determine the efficacy of deterrent crops. The deterrent crops popularly used in Assam should be planted in multiple rows of about five numbers and in a combination of at least two species,” the report said.

It said this low-risk, low-cost method can be easily adopted by the community and be a livelihood option.

The committee said humming sound of bees is successfully adopted in Africa to deter elephants and Project Elephant is also encouraging the experiment in the country.

The chief wildlife warden of Assam requested WWF-India and Ecosystems India to help conduct the experiment in Assam as part of the Centre’s Project Elephant.

Assam with over 5,000 elephants accounts for nearly 19 per cent of India’s elephant population. The 2007 census says the Northeast has 9,330 elephants contributing 34 per cent of the total number of elephants across the country.

According to the committee, incidents of human-elephant conflict are on the rise and have become one of the major issues.

According to the report, the need is to come up with innovative ideas for short and medium-term strategies. The suggestions include keeping the elephant habitats undisturbed, restoring their lost habitats and maintain the corridors for their easy passage.

It said many communities in Assam, especially the tribals and the Adivasis, brew alcohol at home and in villages.

“This activity easily attracts elephants to the area and should be totally stopped or highly regulated in villages close to elephant habitats or areas affected by elephant depredation,” the report said.

It said a corpus of adequate funds should be created so that the community affected by human-elephant conflict can be provided immediate relief, including medical support, before final sanction from the government is received.

The relief provided from the corpus should be reimbursed on receipt of the government funds.