“Rogue” elephant dies at Orang training facility


Call for habitat restoration amid decreasing jumbo population

GUWAHATI: The tuskless male elephant, which had trampled five persons to death at Matia in  Goalpara district on October 29, and tranquilised in a forest on November 11 died at a training facility at the Rajiv Gandhi Orang National Park in central Assam on Sunday morning, even as conservationists and wildlife lovers questioned the state of man-animal conflict management.

The elephant, named “Krishna,” was last Tuesday taken to Orang National Park where it was supposed to be medically treated and tamed, amid protests by residents against release of the close to ten-foot tall animal in the park.

Forest department sources confirmed the death but said that the cause of the elephant’s death would only be ascertained after a post mortem.

Chief minister Sarbananda Sonowal had in the wake of the five casualties, ordered the capture of the “rogue” elephant, which forest officials deny being the “killer” elephant “Laden,” which according to the department probably died.

Interestingly, the entire operation of tranquilising the elephant was undertaken under the leadership of Sootea MLA, Padma Hazarika with the help of his aides and forest officials. Forest officials had located the elephant in the dense forest with the help of a drone.

The news of the elephant’s death at the training centre six days after its capture has evoked criticism among conservations while animal lovers spoke their minds on social media questioning whether the method of capture was right or whether humans need to learn to co-exist with wild animals.

As it is, official sources informed The Shillong Times that the population of elephants in the Northeast has come down drastically from about 11,000 in the year 2001 to less than 5000 in 2012. This is a concern, given that the reproductive

“As many as 12 elephants, including six in the last 72 hours, have died in the human-animal conflict in Assam between October 14 and November 14, 2019. Every year over 100 elephants die in the region. This is a sorry state of affairs and people only talk about human casualties. Their habitats are shrinking every day and it is but natural that they intrude and enter human habitation in search of fodder,” Bibhuti P. Lahkar, elephant conservation expert of Aaranyak, a leading wildlife and biodiversity conservation organisation here, told this correspondent on Sunday.

Aaranyak, for its part, has undertaken steps against the use of livewire/electric fences used by people illegally, also involving village defence parties in the process. “We are also looking at putting in place solar fences which is a safer method to keep elephants away,” Lahkar said.

Inter-state cooperation

He further called upon the need for cooperation between Assam and Meghalaya so as to minimise the human-elephant conflict, given that a number of elephants come down to the border areas of Assam from Garo Hills and are unable to return because of increasing human activity.

“The movement of elephants needs to take place between Assam and Meghalaya in a smooth manner rather than people resorting to illegal means such as installing livewires/electric fences to stop elephants from entering territory in either state,” Lahkar said.

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