Distribution of Blankets and Powerful Search Light
Human-Elephant conflict mitigation in Assam through community mobilization
With the support of GlobalGiving, Wildlife Trust of India (WTI) helped in providing aid to high Human-elephant conflict (HEC) prone areas in Assam, North-east of India. HEC is one of the rising complex issues of today. Elephants cannot survive simply through strict protection of National parks and sanctuaries. Habitats outside reserves often act as crucial link or corridor between large tracts of habitats. However, unprecedented human population growth has caused increasing conversion of natural habitat to human dominated landscapes, bringing elephants and humans in close contact and conflict.
Assam in North-east India exemplifies HEC amongst agricultural communities. Golaghat and Karbi-Anglong areas in Assam are one of the oldest elephant habitats, having an elephant density as high as 0.16 per sq.Km. (Elephant census 2017). A total of 303 people have reportedly died and 137 were injured in Assam since 2011. The loss incurred due to crop raiding by elephants averages to around 110,000 $ each year (Documented by government, 2012). Such heavy losses in the area urged WTI to help the local communities in the area to address the issue.
While the forest department has taken steps to reduce the incidences of crop raiding, the communities unanimously felt the need to assist them in addressing the issue. The villagers from twelve conflict prone villages, Golaghat district decided to form anti-depredation squads and built machans (watchtowers) in strategic points using their own resources to monitor elephant movement and divert them away. On finding that the members of the anti-depredation squads lacked some basic equipment, WTI distributed powerful searchlights and blankets which would help them keep a watch on elephants at night.
The success story of Thoramukh, Golaghat district in mitigating conflict encouraged the neighboring villages of West Karbi-Anglong to adopt the same strategy. Thirteen local anti-depredation squad members of Tumpreng and Rongkhang, West Karbi-anglong were also supported with field equipment (Powerful searchlights and blankets). The Karbi-Anglong Council is planning on working in close partnership with WTI and initiating more such conflict mitigation projects in the area.
Such elephant-orientated efforts like conflict resolution and community involvement can act as a bridge between local people and conservation efforts of the forest department. Communities that would otherwise have high risk of becoming involved in poaching and developing resentment and animosity toward elephants, by active inclusion and involvement in anti-poaching and conflict-mitigation efforts will eventually help in protecting elephants.
"We are thankful to the donors for providing us this much-needed equipment" Ram Baruah, a member of one of the anti-depredation squads. “These high-powered searchlights supported by WTI and Global giving donors will definitely help the villagers drive elephants away from croplands during the night” said Mr. Bey, Karbi Anglong Autonomous Council (KAAC)
Wildlife Trust of India is thankful to all the donors at GlobalGiving for their generous donations towards the cause and encouraging us through their continuous support.
Meeting and Distribution of Kits
The anti-depredation squad with kit