Guwahati: Bogged down by growing incidents of man-elephant conflicts, the Assam forest department has decided to form a team of rapid action force (RAF) in each forest division of the state to curb the menace.
Pointing out that a total of 359 people died in man-elephant conflicts in past four years, Assam forest minister Parimal Suklabaidya said that during the last four years, around 1,169 incidents of man-elephant conflict were reported in the state.
Each RAF team will be equipped with arms and other equipment to tackle the situation, the minister said. “Man-animal conflict is now becoming a common phenomenon in Assam and the north-eastern region,” he added.
“In Assam, 91 people had died due to man-elephant conflict in 2016, while 83 died in 2017, 98 in 2018 and 87 died this year so far. Similarly, 263 incidents were reported in 2016, 398 in 2017, 293 in 2018 and 215 in this year so far,” Mr Suklabaidya said.
“There are 13-14 forest divisions out of 33 divisions in the state where more such incidents have been reported during the winter season. To tackle the situation and reduce the incidents, we are now going to form a rapid action force. Few forest department personnel will be deployed. We will provide vehicles, guns and other equipment to them. The entire process will be completed within a week. We will try to deploy at least one Rapid Action Force team in each place and they will alert 24 hours.”
Asserting that his government has initiated various measures to reduce the conflict situation in the forest areas, the minister, however, claimed that such incidents have gradually declined in the state in comparison to previous time.
Elephant expert Kaushik Barua however attribute this to shrinkage of elephant habitat.
“Although elephants and human beings are two different species, they have the common requirement of land. For whatever reasons, there is a growing shrinkage of land,” he said.
Referring that as many as 62 elephants have died in the state since January this year and altogether 63 people have been killed in conflict, Mr Barua was not sure if measures like RAF would help ion reducing the conflict.