West Bengal forest officials adapt food cultivation for elephants

November 14th, 2007 - 8:17 am ICT by admin  
Siliguri, Nov.2 (ANI): To prevent killing of wild animals by villagers’ self-developed ‘protective measures’, the Cooch Behar forest division of West Bengal’s Jalpaiguri District has planned to feed the animals at select places.

Normally, a single patch of forest is unable to meet an elephant’ requirements that needs around 250-300 kg of fodder and 150 litres of water everyday. To meet the needs the elephants keep shifting their place.

“There is 15 percent grass in 214 kilometres of area. The animals, like elephants, bison and other species are dependent on it. This is their only food,” said Maninder Biswas, the divisional forest Officer, Cooch, Behar Forest division.

One of the reasons cited for elephants’ visits to human habitations is that the pachyderms, following their nature, move from one place to another in search of food. It was, thus, decided that palatable food cultivation should be done in Jaldapara wildlife division.

Almost 14 types of crops are being cultivated on 70 hectares of land every year. Apart from this, 20 types of fruit trees have been planted, so that animals should not come out from the forests to the human population area.

The high-tension wires that are generally used illegally from the nearby electric poles of 440 volts had led to the death of five elephants in the recent past. There is a general awareness being carried out to reduce electrocution of the elephants here.

The ratio of man-elephant conflict, in this region, is amongst the highest in Asia. A study shows that the number of human casualties per elephant was 2.5 per cent in 1997, and the percentage has increased in recent times.

Besides, the officials are conducting mock exercises with captive elephants of the Jaldapara Wildlife Sanctuary, under the Cooch Behar forest division in Jalpaiguri District. The trained elephant demonstrate how after touching the fence, they die immediately.

It aims to prevent villagers from electrocuting wild animals while protecting their fields with naked electric wires.

India has more than 50 per cent of Asiatic elephants but its population has been dwindling due to frequent poaching.

In the last census held in 2005, the number of wild elephants in the region was 350, an increase of eight animals since 2000.

The national census 2005 showed there were 25,000 to 28,000 elephants in India, including only 1,500 male tuskers of breeding age. (ANI)

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