World Elephant Day: Man-Elephant Conflict A Rising Concern In Odisha

On January 10 this year, a ten-year-old girl was killed by a tusker while she was playing outside her house in Keonjhar district. In another incident in Dhenkanal district, a 60-year-old man died after a herd of five elephants closed on him when he had gone to relieve himself. In July, a tusker trampled a man and his nephew in Dhenkanal district.

As the world celebrates Elephant Day 2020, Odisha has more concerns than celebrations due to the rising incidents of man-elephant conflicts.

A data released by the Ministry of Environment and Forests early this year, indicates Odisha along with West Bengal and Assam account for about half of the country’s human and elephant deaths overall.

A research conducted by a non-profit wildlife group has reported that 527 people have been killed in the last 6 years in Odisha due to elephant attacks. The report also suggests 442 people have been injured in between April 2014 and March 2020.

A break-up of the data shows 84 people were killed from April 2014 and March 2015, while 79 people died in jumbo attacks between April 2015 and March 2016. Similarly, 72 people were killed from April 2016 to March 2017 and 85 people died from March 2017 t0 April 2018. The number of deaths due to elephant attacks rose to 92 in April 2018-March 2019 and further increased to 115 in April 2019-March 2020.

Angul and Dhenkanal account for the worst-affected states in terms of man-elephant conflict, followed by Sundargarh, Mayurbhanj, Keonjhar and Sambalpur. Last year, Angul recorded 22 human deaths.

But, it is not just the human deaths that are prevalent in the state. With the human population inhabiting their land, elephant deaths have also become a common factor. Most of the elephants have either died from poaching, train accidents and electrocution.

With wildlife experts raising alarms over the rising concern, the Odisha Government recently announced restoring the elephant habitat through bamboo seed balls.

Jumbo habitats in 38 reserve forests of the Athgarh division in Odisha will be enriched by bamboo seed balls, to stop the tusker from invading human habitats.

The procedure has already begun – the authorities have procured one quintal of seed balls of ‘Salia,’ which is being dropped in the forest since July with the help of local communities.

The officials are hoping this bait will be a big step towards checking the man-elephant confrontation in the state.

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