BHUBANESWAR: Wildlife conservationists have urged the State Government to plant fruit-bearing trees suitable for elephants under the Compensatory Afforestation Fund Management and Planning Authority (CAMPA) scheme in forests.
The request came in the wake of the compensatory afforestation to be taken up by the Forest and Environment department in 72,606.57 hectares (ha) land in lieu of diversion of natural forests.
“Fruit-bearing trees along with bamboo and shrubs should be planted in forests and elephant corridors under CAMPA to meet the fodder crisis and reduce man-animal conflicts,” said members of Wild Orissa, an organisation working for conservation of wildlife in the State.
They said though the forests house a good number of plant species, only certain species are fed on by elephants.
A total 71 species as elephant fodder plants have been identified in forests like Kuldiha. Elephants extensively feed on species like careya arborea, kydia calycina, helicteres isora, mallotus philippinensis, aegle marmelos, zizyphus mauritiona, bauhinia racemosa, bauhinia vahlii, mimosa pudica, asparagus racemosus, smilax zeylanica and diosporea. The animals are also fond of mahua flowers in winter and mango in summer, they added.
The food trail shows that consumption of tree species (56 per cent) is highest as compared to shrubs (20 per c), herbs (14 pc) and climbers (10 pc).“One of the major reasons for rising man-animal conflict is loss of elephant habitat due to diversion of natural forest areas.
Besides, compensatory afforestation is mostly undertaken in plantation sites far away from the sites which have lost this natural forest cover due to diversion. This needs to be addressed,” they said.
Sources said `803.65 crore has been approved for the State under CAMPA for 2020-21 action plan.
The fund will be spent for block plantation, assisted natural regeneration, bald hill plantation, maintenance, fruit-bearing plantation and plantation for wildlife management.