Wednesday, November 22, 2017 | ePaper

Elephant electrocution in border on the rise

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UNB, Dhaka :
The incidents of wild elephants getting electrocuted is on the rise along Bangladesh's border since farmers have started installing generators and electric wires to protect their paddy fields from attacks by elephants coming from across the border.
Official sources say, two wild elephants were found dead in the frontier area of Sreebardi upazila in Sherpur in this month (Oct 6 and 8). Both the elephants died after they came in contact with live wire placed on an Aman paddy field to protect it from animals. On August 13, another elephant was found dead at Haluahati village in Sreebardi upazila. "The incidents of wild elephants falling victims to electrocution has recently marked a rise as farmers are increasingly installing generators and electric wires in their paddy fields to save their crops from elephants that come from Indian side," said Jahidul Kabir, forest conservator of Wildlife and Nature Conservation here, told UNB.
He said three elephants were electrocuted recently in Sherpur while another was killed in 2015. Asian elephants are said to be migratory animals as they can cover a considerable distance within a short period of time. In forests, elephant herds follow a well-defined migration route. The survival of this mega species largely depends on corridors and routes because they allow elephants to safely migrate, access food sources, and establish crucial genetic links between herds.
The presence of traffic on roads, construction of steep retaining walls, barbed-wire fences, and the presence of human population along the corridor and routes can limit the migration of elephants that ultimately hinders their genetic diversity. Jahidul Kabir said when trans-boundary elephants enter Bangladesh's territory facing food
crisis in India. "Once in Bangladesh territory, they find no suitable habitat here either. So, they come down to paddy fields and engage in conflicts with human." Kabir further said, "As people have grabbed the elephant habitat here, the animals frequently damage crop fields of local farmers and attack on local settlement...that's why elephant-human conflict has been the ultimate consequence of their habitat loss."
According to Forest Department data, at least 227 people and 63 elephants were killed here in human-elephant conflicts in the last 13 years. About 16 people and four elephants were killed just last year.
Talking about dealing with the situation, Kabir said the Forest Department has already seized the generators and wires installed in paddy fields so that they cannot kill any more elephant there.
Noting that there is no alternative to creating awareness among people to prevent conflicts with wild elephants, he said human-elephant conflicts will ease when local people become aware of elephants and their necessity.
The forest official said the Forest Department has already proposed the government to increase fund to it and provide compensation to local people so that they can effectively manage elephants in the country.
According to a new study, 'Status of Asian Elephants in Bangladesh' jointly conducted by International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Bangladesh and Bangladesh Forest Department, there are 39 natural crossing points that elephants use regularly to migrate between Bangladesh and its neighbouring countries.
Among them, about 33 crossing points are along the Indian border and the remaining six are on the Myanmar frontier area. Most of the crossing points fall in Bangladesh's northern part.
About the vagrant trans-boundary elephant-crossing points, the study revealed that seven vagrant points were identified along the international boundary of northeastern districts of Bangladesh. Stray elephants from India inadvertently entered Bangladesh by breaking the barbed-wire fences or crossing rivers.

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