Conflict escalates in Sambalpur circle
By Phanindra Pradhan - SAMBALPUR
03rd December 2012 11:30 AM
A closer look at the man-animal conflict in Sambalpur circle reveals that it is people who have encroached upon the wildlife habitat. This has been the cause behind rising elephant menace in Sambalpur forest circle that comprises six divisions namely Sambalpur (South), Sambalpur (North), Bamra Wildlife, Hirakud Wildlife, Rairakhol and Bargarh.
The escalating war for space and food between man and elephants is due to destruction of natural habitats, rapid industrialisation and subsequent deforestation besides poaching for ivory and death due to sagging high tension wires.
As per the official records, as many as 25 elephants have died in the last five years in Sambalpur circle. This apart, two elephants have already died during the current fiscal. One of the two died due to electrocution at Dangapal in Chuliakani Khesra forest under Bamra wildlife division on April 21.
Of the total deaths reported in last five years, seven elephants died due to electrocution, five hunted down by poachers for tusks, four met natural death, one died accidentally while the rest died for other reasons.
As per this year’s census, there are 243 elephants in Sambalpur circle with the highest 190 in Bamra wildlife division followed by 16 each in Sambalpur (south) and Hirakud wildlife, 15 in Bargarh and the rest six in Rairakhol.
The total number of elephants in Sambalpur circle stood at 249 in 2010 census, 297 in 2007 enumeration, while the figure was 257 in 2005. However, a record number of 430 elephants were in 2002.
The Sambalpur Elephant Reserve is situated between the Brahmani and the Mahanadi rivers in the civil districts of Sundargarh, Jharsuguda, Sambalpur and Deogarh covering 2,559.37 sq km. The forest cover is mostly contiguous and the habitat in the Sambalpur circle is congenial to elephants and the circle holds about 28 per cent of Odisha’s elephant population.
Widening of the Sambalpur-Rourkela State Highway and it cuts across the corridor at many places besides mushrooming of industries have completely destroyed the elephant corridor. But with cutting down of bamboo shoots for living by locals and brewing of country liquor becoming cottage industry in rural pockets, shortage of fodder forces elephants to stray out.
As many as 35 persons have been killed and 14 sustained severe injuries besides standing crops on over 4,514 acres and about 106 houses were destroyed during five years by the elephants.
An elephant corridor runs from Hemgir and Kutra in Sundargarh district to Bamra and Garposh in Sambalpur district. Likewise a corridor runs from Bonai in Sundargarh district to Kusmi into Badram wildlife sanctuary in Sambalpur district. Another corridor runs from Hemgir through Jharsuguda via Pradhanpali, Kalmi, Burda to Badram sanctuary.
Seventy elephants have strayed into the Rengali forest range from the neighbouring Bamra wildlife in search of fodder and have destroyed standing paddy over 500 acres in more than 15 villages of Rengali block of Sambalpur district. Seventeen elephants damaged standing crops over huge tracts of land hitting farmers in villages of Bohidar, Nuakanta and Gudesingha under Sambalpur Sadar Police limits in October this year.
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