Karnataka: 69 people killed in elephant attacks in 3 years, says … – The Indian Express

Human fatalities due to elephant attacks are on the rise in Karnataka. In the past three years 69 people in the state have died of jumbo attacks, according to the statistics presented by Union Environment Minister Bhupender Yadav in the Lok Sabha Monday.
The deaths are a pointer to the increasing man-animal conflicts due to decreasing animal corridor. The Karnataka forest department on Monday fitted radio collars around the neck of two elephants in Male Mahadeshwara Wildlife Sanctuary, in order to mitigate man-animal conflict in the villages and buffer areas surrounding the sanctuary. The Karnataka Forest Department last month directed the Hassan forest division to consult the agriculture department and submit a proposal regarding commissioning of a multi-disciplinary study to explore the changes in cropping pattern. The study would look at the changes with an aim to bring down man-animal conflict in Hassan district.
The highest casualty of man-animal conflict was witnessed in Odisha where 322 people lost their lives since 2019 due to elephant attacks. During the same period Arunachal Pradesh and Maharashtra have registered one death each and the neighbouring states of Karnataka, including Tamil Nadu, Kerala and Andhra Pradesh recorded 152, 57 and 10 deaths respectively.
The other states which claimed human lives due to pachyderm attacks are: Chhattisgarh (183), Jharkhand (133), Meghalaya (12), Tripura (5), Uttar Pradesh (7) and West Bengal (240).
Responding to the questions posed by Kerala MP Kumbakudi Sudhakaran regarding the measures taken by the Union Government to reduce elephant attacks, Minister Yadav said, “The Ministry provides financial and technical assistance to states/UTs under the centrally-sponsored scheme ‘Project Elephant’ for the protection and conservation of elephants and their habitats in the country. In order to reduce man-elephant conflicts and to avoid retaliatory killing of elephants, compensation is provided to local communities for loss of property and life. The Compensatory Afforestation Fund Act 2016 and the Rules also provide for the use of the fund for development of wildlife habitats, especially for elephants, establishment of animal rescue centres, etc.”
Elaborating on the measures which the authorities should take in preventing man-animal conflict, Sumanth Bindumadhav, acting country director, Humane Society International, India said that one of the big gaps in the current system of management is that it alienates communities from wild animals around them without understanding the role they play in the management of conflict.
“Unfortunately there is no silver bullet that will ‘solve’ this issue. Even as necessary steps need to be taken to secure wildlife corridors, we should expedite the process of payment of ex-gratia to victims and their families and build capacity of the on-ground teams in conflict management. The priority of governments across all range states need to be more proactive and inclusive in wildlife management planning than reacting to situations as they arise, he said, and added that dealing with a herd of elephants when they are destroying a field is far more challenging if the community has not been sensitised and there is no mechanism in place to respond rapidly, with the right protocols.
While many may feel that providing more forest land adjoining the elephant range would be a good move, with the availability of resources, the population of elephants will also go up. This means that the interaction between human communities and elephants will still persist. “Solutions need to emerge from the understanding that these animals will continue to share space with us and we have to figure out alternative ways for communities to conserve animals around them,” Bindumadhav said.
Lok Sabha MP Kotha Prabhakar Reddy has asked the House if the Union Government is experimenting with a siren system, which would go off automatically sensing elephant herds crossing the national highway to alert traffic to elephant movement in order to reduce human-elephant encounters particularly during cropping season when wild elephants would start coming out from forests.
In his reply, Ashwani Kumar Choubey, Minister of State in the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEF&CC), said, “The Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change under the centrally-sponsored scheme – Project Elephant (CSS-PE) did not undertake any experiment with a siren system which would go off automatically sensing elephant herds crossing the national highway. However, the states have also supported various conservation and management interventions involving scientific and technological inputs under the CSSPE for preventing human elephant encounters.”
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