74 % decrease in losses due to man-animal conflict

Guwahati: Apeejay Tea today said losses due to man-animal conflict in its four gardens in Assam has come down by 74 per cent in a three-year special project implemented with wildlife group WWF-India.
The special project was carried out at Borjuli, Sessa, Ghoirallie and Dhulapadung tea estates owned by Apeejay Tea, whose losses came down to Rs 7 lakh a year from about Rs 29 lakh annually three years ago due to human elephant conflict, Apeejay Surrendra Group Director (CSR) Renu Kakkar said at a press meet here.
“Now after three years, financial loss in Apeejay Tea estates as a result of human elephant conflict has reduced by 74 per cent,” she said. More than 50 per cent of the deaths caused by human elephant conflict were recorded from the company’s tea gardens in Sonitpur. In the three years of the project there was only one death due to attacks by wild elephants in the four gardens owned by the compaNy and there was injury to none.
Earlier there used to be three to four cases every year, she said. In the project low cost solar power fences were installed and scalable bio fences using thorny bamboos were introduced to prevent wild elephants from entering the gardens.
Regular village-level interactions were organised and anti-depredation squad orientations and street plays were conducted as important components to create awareness on elephants and HEC management, she said.
The Apeejay Surrendra Group chairman will soon organise a conference and invite all other tea garden owners of Assam to discuss and adopt such low-cost innovative ideas to prevent man-animal conflicts, she added.
Apeejay Tea sources said that in Sonitpur district, the number of deaths in elephant and human conflict decreased to three elephant and 11 human deaths in 2017 after the project was introduced as compared to eight and 16 respectively in 2013. They said, on 111 occasions wild elephants were successfully driven back to nearby forests with the help of trained captive elephants or ‘kunkis’ in the first year of the project.
During the project period seven early warning systems have been installed in Apeejay Tea’s Dhulapadung and Sessa estates and one active infra-red system was installed at Sessa.
Field training on human-elephant conflict management was provided to more than 1,000 frontline staff and others in Sonitpur, Lakhimpur, Dhemaji and Nagaon districts at the fringe of Kaziranga National Park. Solar street lights were installed at 28 vulnerable locations inside Apeejay tea estates to stop sudden human-elephant interface and introduced 12.5 km of thorny bamboo fencing, they said. Kakkar said over 8,000 people living in Apeejay tea estate areas and neighboring villages have been made aware of solutions to human elephant conflict. (PTI)