Bhopal (Madhya Pradesh): Forest department has decided to develop elephant corridors in Madhya Pradesh as part of the strategy to deal with frequent influx of tuskers from the neighbouring state, said a forest official. Madhya Pradesh has already created corridors for safe movement of tigers from one reserve to another thereby ensuring their safety.
Elephants had trampled five people to death in Shahdol last month besides causing considerable damage to crops and houses in past six months. As many as 14 people have lost their lives in past three years. Moreover, an ex-gratia of Rs 50 lakh has been distributed as compensation to the aggrieved families in past three years.
“State will conserve identified elephant corridors. Forest department needs to conserve such corridors to facilitate movement of tuskers and avoid conflict,” said deputy director of Bandhavgarh Tiger Reserve, Lovit Bharti.
Madhya Pradesh has history of elephants coming from other states and then going back to their place of origin but of late elephants have also started settling here, he added.
Biggest settlement of elephants has been made in Bandhavgarh where more than 45 elephants have made their home. At present, three separate herds of tuskers are moving in the state around Anuppur, Singrauli, Sidhi and Shahdol. Each pack has 9-10 elephants including calves.
Considering increasing movement of elephants and conflicts, forest department had constituted a seven-member committee including elephant expert R Sukumar. The committee submitted its recommendations for mitigation of elephant-human conflict.
Former chief wildlife warden Alok Kumar said that the recommendations include short term plans, mid-term plan and long term plan.
“One of the important recommendations includes conservation of the passage for elephants. In short term plans, awareness programmes have been recommended,” said Kumar.
Deputy director of Bandhavgarh Reserve, Bharti said that ‘haathi mitra dal’ (friends of elephants) have been formed in the villages where elephants are moving or are expected to move.
“The biggest challenge, at present, is that forest dwellers are collecting mahua in the forest. Humans have intruded into territory of elephants. This has lead to conflict. We have advised the villagers to exercise precaution,” said Bharti.
WhatsApp groups have been made to enable early warning system. Forest staff and animal lovers are creating awareness among the villagers. “They have asked the villagers to give proper respect to pachyderm. Leave their passage and avoid any confrontation,” said Pushpendra, animal lover, working with villagers in Shahdol and Umaria.
Forest staff has also distributed torch lights, sirens and crackers to villagers as a precautionary measure.
The phenomenon of wild elephants entering MP started in 2007-08. The elephants from Chhattisgarh enter Singrauli, Sidhi, Shahdol, Anuppur and Dindori district. In the initial years, these elephants used to spend few months, at the most 2-3 months during rainy season in MP and would then return to Chhattisgarh.