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Rapid Response Units trained to mitigate HEC in eastern Assam

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Guwahati, March  28: Member volunteers  of  Rapid Response Units (RRU) operating in various human-elephant conflict (HEC) affected areas in eastern Assam districts are entrusted with an important responsibility of raising early alarm over presence of wild elephants in the proximity of human settlements so as to avoid human-elephant confrontations as much as possible in the greater interest of coexistence.

These RRU members who are closely networked through WhatsApp groups, resort to fast dissemination information among the group members as soon as they spot wild elephants close to human habitats. They constantly monitor movements of elephant herds.

These RRUs have been formed in certain HEC-affected areas of five eastern Assam districts of Tinsukia, Dibrugarh, Majuli, Sibsagar and Jorhat by biodiversity conservation organization Aaranyak and British Asian Trust with support from Darwin Initiatives.

As many as 117 RRU members were recently trained by experts in a series of training programmes organized by Aranyak-British Asian Trust during March 19 to 21 last in Tinsukia, Sibsagar and Jorhat districts.

Precisely speaking, such trainings were held at Basa Gaon of Sadiya in Tinsukia district, Charaguwa High School at Charaguwa Grant village around Panidihing Bird Sanctuary in Sivasagar district and at  Hatisal Chapori village in Jhanjimukh locality of  Jorhat district.

Members of anti-depredation squads (ADS) of Assam Forest Department and other Forest staff toon  attended the training programmes besides RRU members.

Each of these training programmes comprises of a theory session equipped with substantive presentations by conservation scientist Dr Bibhuti Prasad Lahkar and Aaranyak official Anjan Baruah preceded by a brief session of introduction on Aaranyak by officials Zakir Islam Bora and Niranjan Bhuyan who also explained in detail objectives for creation of RRUs..

Aaranyak’s researcher Rubul Tanti explained morphological characteristics to identify elephants in a herd, their distribution and various causes of growing conflict in Northeast India during the series of training programmes.

He also focused on various roles and responsibilities that RRU members would be playing in their villages on various issues related to conflict.

Anjan Baruah explained various mitigation tools for minimizing human elephant conflict and facilitating coexistence.

Pre and post evaluation exercises were conducted to assess the outcome of training programmes.

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