State Govt to Undertake Study on Elephant Load Capacity - The New Indian Express

State Govt to Undertake Study on Elephant Load Capacity

Published: 20th February 2014 08:54 AM

Last Updated: 20th February 2014 08:58 AM

The growing man-elephant conflict and rising incidence of poaching has prompted the Odisha Government to take up a carrying capacity study of the jumbos in the State. The Wildlife Wing of the State is set to ink an MoU with Bangalore-based Asian Nature Conservation Foundation (ANCF), which will conduct the assessment.

Odisha, which is one of the major elephant habitats in eastern India, has witnessed an explosion in industrial and mining activities in last decade and a half. This has not only led to fragmentation of the natural habitats of the pachyderms, their corridors for migration too have been badly affected leading to a serious conflict between men and the jumbos.

Between 2008-09 and 2012-13, as many as 330 elephants died in the State. During this period, elephants claimed as many 326 lives. Average human injury, caused by the jumbos, has remained around 30 while crop damage has jumped manifold __ from 5,286 acre in 2008-09 to 14,034 acre in 2012-13. Besides, there are damage to houses and other assets. The Odisha Government, which paid compensation to the tune of Rs1.53 crore in 2008-09, ended up paying close to `10 crore in 2012-13.

Management strategies too have not yielded any result as the conflict has remained a major challenge. In fact, northern Odisha districts such as Mayurbhanj and Balasore have been witness to the pattern as close to 100 elephants have been migrating from Dalma Wildlife Sanctuary for the last four to five years posing a serious challenge for the forest administration.

It is in this backdrop that the study assumed significance though the Indian Institute of Science had been asked to carry out a similar assessment not long ago.

The proposed study, Wildlife  Wing sources said, will cover the whole State in general and all major elephant habitats in particular.

 “It will provide significant inputs about the habitats, their quality, fodder and water availability so that we could work on enrichment of forests, supplements for fodder and other resources,” sources added.

The study is expected to throw light on  unnatural migration taking place in the State which has been a reason behind the growing chasm between the jumbos and the human beings. While natural corridors have decayed, increased urbanisation and encroachment of space by the human settlements have forced the elephants to come face-to-face with the men.

The last census in 2012 had put the elephant population in the State at 1,930. Experts say the natural carrying capacity of elephants in the State could well be higher than what it is today.

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