44 people, 19 elephants killed in one year

Sadiqur Rahman | Published: 00:28, Oct 03,2016 | Updated: 18:08, Oct 03,2016

 
 

A stray wild elephant, swept away with floodwater into Bangladesh from India, is tied in ropes with trees after its rescue following tranquilisation from a local pond at village Kayra of Sharishabari in Jamalpur. –– New Age file photo

Increasing number of elephants and human beings lost lives in conflicts in the country’s elephant ranges and the areas around them in recent years.

Forest officials said that human-elephant conflicts increased in recent years due habitat destruction and fragmentation and feed scarcity for wild elephants.

But veterinary teachers blamed the government’s unplanned protective measures against wild elephants for their increasing conflicts with human beings.

Since August 2015, at least 44 people and 19 elephants were killed in conflicts in five districts, officials told New Age.
District officials said at least 21 people and 16 elephants were killed in
Sherpur.

In the latest incident a male elephant which strayed into Bangladesh from Meghalaya, India, was electrocuted in Kangsha a bordering union in Sherpur on Saturday night.

Jhenaigati police station officer in-charge Mizanur Rahman said that the elephant’s electrocution occurred with electrified fences that were erected by locals to prevent elephants straying in their neighbourhoods.

On September 26, Bibiran Begum of the same area died on the spot trampled by a herd of elephants on the run.

The pack of elephants searching for food began to flee after they were driven out by locals scared that their homes and crops would be destroyed.
Sherpur’s divisional forest officer for wildlife management and nature conservation Gobinda Roy Sherpur told New Age that frequent human-elephant conflicts occur in Kangsha, Singrabaruna, Haluaghat, Tawagocha, all bordering villages in Nalitabari, Sribardi and Jhenaigati upazilas.

He said that the conflicts occur when elephants stray into crop fields and banana and jackfruit plantations in search of food.
He said 450 square km of forests in Sherpur was proving totally inadequate for the elephants to get shelters.

Sherpur deputy commissioner Pervez Rahim said that discussions were held twice with his Indian counterpart in the Tura district for the creation of a trans boundary elephant habitat.
He said that forest officials of the two sides also attended the meetings.

He said Indian elephants stray into Bangladesh due to denudation hill forests in Meghalaya.
Since August 2015, at least 20 villagers and three elephants were killed in conflicts in the three hill tract districts and southern Chittagong and parts of Cox’s Bazaar, said forest and district administration officials.

They said that the conflicts occur quite frequently due to loss of elephant habitats due to encroachments by people seeking settlements on hills.
Rangamati DC Md Manzarul Mannan said that illegal settlements, jum cultivation and development works were fragmenting elephant habitats in the hill districts.

In 2013, the Bangladesh chapter of the International Union for Conservation of Nature and the department of forest jointly began implementing a number of community-based projects including formation of elephant response teams in 30 elephant ranges.
Under the projects, villagers were advised to grow chili, okra, teasel gourd, bitter gourd and other crops which elephants avoid eating.

IUCN country representative Ishtiaq Uddin Ahmed said that India’s cooperation was crucial for creating trans-boundary elephant habitats along Sherpur and Jamalpur.
In 2000, IUCN declared that the Asian elephant population in Bangladesh was a critically endangered.  

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