Dooars, West Bengal, November 11-16, 2018 : In a bid to engage relevant authorities and seek their support to mitigate Human-Elephant conflict in the Dooars region, Society for Protecting Ophiofauna and Animal Rights (SPOAR) our Green Corridor Champion organised a series of liaison meetings with forest officials, local administration and other relevant stakeholders from 11th -16th November 2018. The hazards of installing razor-blade fencing in tea-estates were brought to notice during these meetings. The elephant herds are often forced to divert their routes for movement, across the tea estates due to randomly installed razor fencing which results in negative encounters between elephants and humans. In order to deter elephants from entering tea-estates, the owners have started using the razor-sharp barbed wires which cause serious injuries to elephants and other wildlife, many of which die in their attempts to cross the fence.
The high degree of ranging by elephants in search of food, along with ever-increasing biotic pressure and high human population density in Dooars have resulted in increased human-elephant conflict in the landscape. SPOAR members along with Mr Debobroto Sircar, Officer-in-Charge, Wildlife Trust of India approached key officials to bring to their attention the deadly consequences of installing these fences and lobbied with the relevant authorities to seek their support and come up with viable solutions to mitigate threats inimical to the movement of elephants through the corridors.
Mr. Binoy Krishna Barman, Minister-in-Charge of Forests and Environment, Government of West Bengal, Ms. Koushalya Roy, Sabhapati, Mal Panchayat Samiti, Mr. Debabrata Law, Joint BDO, Mal, Mr. Ujjal Ghosh, CCF Wildlife Northern Circle acknowledged the issue and assured full cooperation to WTI-SPOAR team for further action to prohibit indiscriminate use of razor fencing in tea-estates. The team will continue to liaison with relevant stakeholders and authorities to handle the issue at hand and create mass awareness condemning activities that restrict the elephant movement through corridors.
SPOAR also attended a workshop organised by Centre for Ecological Sciences in collaboration with West Bengal Forest Department on 16th November 2018 at Chalsa. The workshop aimed to discuss the strategies to reduce train-elephant accidents in Northern West Bengal and was attended by various tea associations, institutes, government and non-government organizations, forest officials and other relevant stakeholders.
SPOAR, a Jalpaiguri based organization is the first Green Corridor Champion of Northern West Bengal deployed by WTI with support from Stop Poaching Fund. The team has been charged with the responsibility to keep an eye and secure the elephant corridors of Northern West Bengal. The aim is to promote human-elephant co-existence in the region and secure Right of Passage for elephants thereby facilitating their unhindered movement.