AP plans steps to ensure safe passage of elephants

VIJAYAWADA: The Andhra Pradesh Government is initiating several steps to ensure the safe passage of elephants that move in from Odisha, Karnataka and Tamil Naidu to AP districts on a regular basis. The aim of the government is to facilitate the co-existence of elephants and humans.

In compliance with the advice of the Project Elephant Steering Committee of the Wildlife Institute of India and also taking note of the observations of the Supreme Court, the AP forest authorities aim to develop an elephant corridor.

This would be done on administrative lines, even if it is not technically feasible, to ensure that elephants are not forcibly driven back to the places of their origin and to facilitate their passage from place to place.

The government plans to employ elephant trackers to keep a tab on elephant movement round-the-clock.

A plan is also to provide relief to farmers for the loss of crops and extend financial assistance in case of death of people due to elephant attacks. The government would also ensure casual employment on an outsourcing basis to one of the bereaved family members, giving them work like elephant trackers.

Forest authorities say there used to be just 20 elephants in AP in the 1980s their number has gone up to nearly 175 now. They are found mainly in Seshachalam Biosphere, Sri Venkateswara National Park, Rayala Elephant Reserve, Koundinya Wildlife Sanctuary etc.

Elephants are now found to be crossing borders and moving from state to state. With the recent death of three elephants and a calf in the north Andhra region, the AP forest authorities started deploying more animal trackers to keep a watch on them and also to drive them back to the nearby forests from agricultural fields.

This would be done in an appropriate manner and firecrackers would not be used to drive elephants away. Officials say they are also against the erection of barriers to curtail the elephant movement. By their very nature, elephants are landscape animals that move from place to place in search of food and water.

The forest department aims to develop elephant-holding areas so that they can stay put in such areas for some time or keep them in zoos.

Additional principal chief conservator of forests (wildlife management) Shantpriya Pande said, “Elephants have the right to passage from place to place. We will not drive them back to their places of origin. Instead, we would keep a watch on them and try to guide them into nearby forest areas in case they stray
into fields. We shall protect them and facilitate the co-existence of elephants and humans.”

Foresters note that elephants are placed in Schedule-1 of the Wild Life (Protection) Act, of 1972. Everyone should take the responsibility to protect them and do no harm to them,” they say.

( Source : Deccan Chronicle. )
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