WILDLIFE: Legalise jumbo sale: Forest – Govt wants changes in wildlife act to tackle growing elephant population – sensible if done in a timely and transparent and manner, but only once GRA takes effect ?!!
FROM THE TELEGRAPH CORRESPONDENT
Siliguri, Dec. 6: The state forest department has asked the Centre to make the capture and sale of wild elephants legal so that problems caused by the animal’s growing population in north Bengal can be mitigated.
The number of elephants in north Bengal forests has gone up from around 350 in 2008 to 500 this year. The foresters are worried that if the number of jumbos increases, there will be more man-animal conflicts in the region.
The state government has asked the Union ministry of environment and forests to excise clauses prohibiting the capture and sale of elephants from the Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972.
“Time and again, the act has been amended for the conservation of wildlife. It was through these amendments that capture of wild elephants and their sale or donation have been prohibited,” S.B Mondal, the principal chief conservator of forests (wildlife), said here today.
“The elephants are beyond our control because of their steady rise in population. To stem regular incidents of depredation and attacks on humans by the elephants, we want the removal of certain clauses which debar the capture and sale of the jumbos”.
At present, calves rescued by foresters are domesticated and the act says the animals’ ownership can be changed only through inheritance.
“There is a huge demand for elephants from individuals and other countries. But we cannot supply elephants as only a few are in captivity. Since we are prevented from capturing and donating elephants, it is not possible for us to provide the jumbos to various government departments, which need the animals for patrolling in remote areas,” said Mondal.
“If certain new provisions are inserted in the act to allow the capture and sale of elephants, we can get rid of the problems caused by the growing population of the pachyderms. We have sent our proposal to the Centre and are awaiting a reply,” he added.
According to the officer, 200 elephants or at best 250 are suitable for north Bengal, whose forest cover is around 3,100sqkm. Preliminary findings of a census conducted in November have shown that the region has more than 500 elephants.
Mondal said the ratio of human deaths from elephant attacks was also high in north Bengal. “The ratio of human fatalities to the number of elephants is as high as 1:9, instead of the normal 1:50. It means for each nine elephants, one person is killed by the animal in north Bengal a year.”
Staff assault after herd raid – CPM creates problems and urges sale of elephants so they can take the money and run while it stalls the GRA ?!!
FROM THE TELEGRAPH CORRESPONDENT
Alipurduar, Dec. 6: Two forest employees were assaulted and a vehicle was damaged last night by residents of a Madarihat village who alleged that inactive guards had failed to drive out a herd of marauding elephants from the area.
Following the attack, the forest department filed an FIR against four villagers including a CPM panchayat member.
Around 11pm yesterday, a herd of 30 to 35 wild elephants entered Kalibari under Khayerbari gram panchayat of Madarihat block, 50km from Alipurduar. The herd that came out of Jaldapara damaged five huts of Madhya Madarihat village. A tusker in the herd also injured Ukil Oraon, a temporary forest worker.
Personnel of the Madarihat elephant squad reached the spot. But by then agitated villagers had assaulted Khagen Barman and Niloy Guho Majumder, two forest employees, and pushed the foresters’ vehicle into a ditch, sources said.
“Police saved both the employees and the vehicle. We have lodged an FIR against four persons including the panchayat member with Madarihat police,” said Omprakash, the divisional forest officer of wildlife III. Ukil who complained of chest pain was shifted to Birpara State General Hospital from the block hospital.
Kanchha Tamang, a gram panchayat member, said: “For the past five days, wild elephants have been wrecking havoc in our village, damaging huts and nut fields. The foresters visit the spot either late or not at all. We are much annoyed at their inaction. Today we submitted a memorandum to the range office demanding continuous patrolling in our village.”
The DFO said the indiscriminate use of fire crackers by the villagers made the elephants agitated, and the animals, instead of going towards forest, entered the village. “Had the villagers helped our staff, the herd could be sent back more easily.”