Agartala: With a view to reduce man-elephant conflict, Tripura government has decided to erect electrified barbed wire fencing that will prevent the animals from straying into human habitations.
Atul Gupta, Chief Wild Life Warden of the state, said that the Centre had sanctioned Rs 24 lakh to put up the wire fencing so that the pachyderms were confined to their reserves.
Asked if the villagers and elephants will be in danger once the electrified fencing comes up, he said, "They will get only electric shock as intended, but no fatality." Gupta says that there is a plan to involve Joint Forest Management (JFMCs) and Eco Development Committees (EDCs) to create awareness among villagers about the need for erecting the fence.
Besides, the Forest Department has decided to arrange for adequate food in the habitat of the elephants by excavating ponds and large-scale plantation of trees in the core area. "If adequate food is arranged for elephants, they will not stray away, which will go a long way in reducing man-animal conflict," he explained.
The state has 58 elephants, according to the latest survey conducted by the Forest Department. While one herd was spotted at Gomati district's Gandhari area, another, a big one, was found at Atharamura hill range in Dhalai district. The state government set up an elephant reserve at Gandhari in Gomati district for better conservation of the jumbos, whose population was dwindling in the state. The
reserve is spread over 123.8 sq km area.
Just 30 to 40 years ago, elephants had never been seen in inhabited areas in Agartala, forest officials said. The pachyderms started invading human habitations after the cutting down of forests for construction of a hydel power project on the Gomati river.
With the loss of their habitat, the elephants started migrating to Bangladesh where forests were abundant. Gupta said that a large number of elephants had migrated to the Chittagong hill tracts in Bangladesh from the Gomati Wild Life Sanctuary. There was a time, according to British surveyor John Hunter's report, when elephants outnumbered humans in the kingdom during the colonial times and it was the reason why the colonisers did not consider taking administrative control of the region.