NEW DELHI: Over 500 people and 100 elephants die every year due to conflict with each other, while property worth millions are damaged, according to data by the Union Environment Ministry released on Monday.
India has the largest number of wild Asian elephants, estimated at 29,964 — which is about 60 per cent of the species’ global population — according to the 2017 census by Project Elephant.
Loss of natural habitat and fragmentation have been bringing wild elephants closer to human habitations, sparking human-elephant conflicts.
“Human habitation is impinging on the boundary of many Protected Areas and shrinking space, shortage of food often forces wild animals towards populated areas. Each year, human-elephant conflict results in about 500 human deaths while over 100 elephants die due to human-related activities, which include poaching for ivory or meat, poisoning, electrocution and collision with trains,” highlight a document ‘Best Practices of Human-Elephant Conflict Management in India’.
Sanjay Kumar, director general (forest) said elephant population is rising, but what is very concerning is serious conflicts with humans reported in elephant-range states.
“They are migrating from Jharkhand to Chhattisgarh to Madhya Pradesh and Maharashtra and in other areas, where they were not present before. New research methodologies are being looked at so that the migration to newer areas remain stable not only genetically but also they could have habitat to create the least conflicting environment,” he said.
‘EIA criticism premature’
Objections to the draft Environment Impact Assessment 2020 was unnecessary and premature, Union minister Prakash Javadekar said as Congress leader Rahul Gandhi called for scrapping it.
“We have received thousands of suggestions which we welcome. We will consider those suggestions,” he said.