WWF, Pernod Ricard tie up to protect wild elephants in Assam

GUWAHATI: Pernod Ricard India Foundation and World Wide Fund for Nature India (WWF India) have joined hands to secure the future of wild elephants in four districts of Assam through effective human-animal conflict management.

The project will cover 150 villages in Kamrup, Sonitpur, Biswanath, and Nagaon districts.

Community members in the villages will be trained on effective situation management by developing a toolkit and forming anti-depredation squads, which would help them protect their property, crops and lives.

“The project will build on WWF India’s experience on human-elephant conflict management in Assam, developed over the past two decades. These measures include the use of anti-depredation squads, innovative and low-cost fences and diverse awareness raising measures,” an official statement said.

Some of these measures undertaken with active participation of local communities and the Assam forest department have demonstrated the potential to ensure the safety and well-being of local communities and the endangered Asian elephant.

The Asian elephant, being a keystone species, plays an integral role in forest and grassland ecosystems and humanity’s relationship with nature.

“However, dwindling forest cover, loss of habitat and shrinking movement spaces have paved the way for increased conflict with humans with heavy damage on both ends,” the statement said.

Informing about the programme, Thibault Cuny, managing director and chief executive officer, Pernod Ricard India, said, “Creating a positive impact on the environment and the community that we are a part of, is a responsibility we take very seriously and we measure our growth, not only through the economic value we generate but also through the value and gains, that we create for our society and environment.”

“We are happy to partner with WWF India in this programme which will help create long-term convivial relationship between humans and elephants to drive a larger restorative co-existence,” Cuny said.

The programme will also include training of forest department staff in partnership with the state forest department to ensure long-term sustainability of conservation efforts on ground.

Speaking about the partnership, Dipankar Ghose, director, Wildlife and Habitats, WWF India, said, “We welcome Pernod Ricard India Foundation’s support to conserve elephants and reduce conflict in four districts of Assam. This partnership will help secure the population of Asian elephants in the state by working closely with local communities and the forest and railway departments of the state.”

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