Jharkhand, February 3, 2014: Securing a future for the elephant ‘the heritage animal’ in India, its continued survival in the wild constitute a major challenge faced by wildlife conservationists.
Over past decades, people have made steady inroads into the elephants’ natural habitat , changing land cover through agriculture and settlements. With their habitats now fragmented, degraded and compressed, elephants are compelled to enter into human settlements to reach necessary resources.
One such form of Human Elephant Conflict situation is crop raiding in the farms of fringe villages resulting in conflict incidents where the people retaliate against the elephants. HEC can also be caused by manmade constructions in villages which could pose a threat to the elephants which stray in to these areas. Farmers in Chota Changru, Bara Changru, Bantha Reladih in Jharkhand, have constructed wells for irrigation. These wells are open and don’t have a wall around them and in most cases hidden from view. These pose a threat to wild elephant herds in the areas, especially younger calves which often fall in to the wells accidentally. In the past two years there have been five cases have been reported where the elephants have fallen in to the wells around these villages. Of these, three calves were rescued in time by the villagers and the Forest Department authorities, but the remaining two could not be rescued and died in the wells.
Apart from wells, irrigation trenches built by people and subsequently abandoned also pose a grave threat to the elephant.