Steps to check jumbo menace yet to take off
By Sisir Panigrahy - BERHAMPUR
03rd December 2012 09:34 AM
The man-animal conflict has been rising at an alarming pace in Ganjam.
According to reports, elephant attacks have claimed 17 lives in the district and 26 elephants died owing to the conflict in the last five years till October last. Of the 26 animals, 10 were electrocuted. Forty-five persons have also been injured and crops damaged in 5,912.5 acres in this period.
As most of the forests have now shrunk due to the encroachment and timber mafia and decrease in fodder availability in forests, the animals are straying into human habitations putting people in trouble.
Worse, work on the solar fencing and trench projects to curb elephant menace, proposals for which were sent to the State Government by the Forest Department officials here last year, is yet to begin. The situation has worsened to a level that animals have of late been sneaking into Berhampur city. In the last three years, elephant herds sneaked into Industrial estate in the city twice and Berhampur University campus thrice.
Ganjam has three forest divisions - Berhampur, South Ghumusur and North Ghumusur. While the Berhampur division comprises Chatrapur and Berhampur revenue sub-divisions, the south and north Ghumusur comprises forest areas of Bhanjanagar and Chatrapur revenue sub-divisions. Four years back, elephants from Chandaka sanctuary and Kandhamal district strayed into Ganjam forests in search of fodder. Since then, they have been wreaking havoc in Digapahandi, Bhanjanagar, Chhatrapur, Purushottampur, Rambha, Khallikote and Beguniapada blocks.
While shooing away these elephants, villagers have often become their victims. Similarly, many elephants have also died after coming in contact with electric fences around agricultural fields.
The situation had eased a little when the Forest Department had driven away the animals by engaging two trained elephants - kunkis - and experts from Assam. However, the elephants returned to the area once again because of availability of fodder here.
Forest officials cite staff crunch behind their helplessness in curbing the menace. Sources said there is 30 per cent vacancy of forest officials in the district.
Efforts to contact Regional Conservator of Forests Jitender Kumar Srivastav and DFO (south Ghumusar) R C Sethy proved futile.
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