Karbi Anglong, Assam, November 14, 2017: As part of a Rapid Action Project (RAP) initiated by its Wild Aid division, Wildlife Trust of India (WTI), with support from the David Shepherd Wildlife Foundation (DSWF), distributed field equipment to members of thirteen local anti-depredation squads to help them tackle Human Elephant Conflict in the Tumpreng and Rongkhang areas of west Karbi Anglong. The equipment was handed over to the squad members by Horensing Bey, Chairman of Karbi Anglong Autonomous Council (KAAC), in the presence of Assam Forest Department officials at a small event on November 13.
The Karbi Anglong region has witnessed an escalation in Human Elephant Conflict in recent years. There are an estimated 1700 wild elephants in the landscape (Elephant Census, 2011), which lies in proximity to three Protected Areas – Nambor Doi Reserve Forest, Garampani Wildlife Sanctuary and Daigrung Reserve Forest – and includes the Kalaphar-Daigrung Elephant Corridor, a vital elephant movement path mapped in the latest edition of Right of Passage, WTI’s definitive publication on the 101 elephant corridors identified across India.
While the forest department has taken steps to reduce the incidence of crop raiding, the local communities unanimously felt that they needed to provide local assistance in addressing the issue. They constructed machans at strategic points using their own resources and formulated anti-depredation squads, each comprising four to five village youth. In all, thirteen anti-depredation squads, seven in the Tumpreng area and six in the Rongkhang area, have been formed. Finding that squad members lacked basic field gear, WTI and DSWF have provided them with high-powered searchlights and blankets, since they have to stay in the machans at night.
KAAC Chairman Horensing Bey underscored the importance of elephant corridors as being vital for the long term conservation of elephants as well as their co-existence with humans
“These high-powered searchlights will definitely help the villagers drive elephants away from crop lands during the night” said Mr Bey, adding that the KAAC would work in close partnership with WTI to initiate more conflict mitigation projects in the area. He also highlighted WTI’s work for the securement of the Kalapahar-Daigrung corridor and underscored the importance of elephant corridors as being vital for the long term conservation of elephants as well as their co-existence with humans.
“WTI will in due course carry out an assessment of Human Elephant Conflict in Tumpreng and Rongkhang and try to implement sustained conflict mitigation initiatives in these areas”, said Dilip Deori, who heads WTI’s Kaziranga Karbi Anglong Link Project.
Mr Dhonsing Terang, the Assistant Conservator of Forests, Donkamokam Range, was also present on the occasion and spoke about WTI’s activities in Karbi Anglong, which he said were targeted at the betterment of local people as well as the conservation of wild animals and habitats.