Hope you are having a good day. We at Wildlife Trust of India have been ever grateful for the support and faith you have shown in our work. It is because of you that we have been able to work towards conserving biodiversity and mitigating threats that loom over nature and its associated species. However, of late we and other non-profit organizations registered in India have been facing an issue regarding receiving funds from GlobalGiving.
We speculate there might have been an order issued by the Ministry of Home Affairs, Government of India, which has led to this disruption. GlobalGiving has been of immense support to us and has been trying tirelessly to come up with a suitable solution to this problem. As you know, we are a conservation-action organization and our work stems from the efforts on ground, which in turn is largely dependent on the fund inflow.
This temporary suspension in disbursement of funds has affected our work. We decided to apprise you, our supporters about the problem we have been facing since the past couple of months. We are hopeful that this issue would be resolved soon. Please continue to support us and our work. Do not worry, all your contribution would reach us. GlobalGiving is making sure of that. We would be back with an update on our work very soon. Till then, please keep supporting us.
In continuation with our sensitization work in the Terai landscape in North-Western Bengal, our Green Corridor Champion Mr.Avijan with the support of Wildlife Trust of India and our generous Global Giving donors conducted interactive sessions in Chenga,Panighatta area to address human-elephant conflict.
Panighatta region being the main route for elephants to move between Mahananda Wildlife sanctuary and Kolabari coridors, the limited interference of human in the tea gardens of Panighatta in the past had attracted some good wildlife like elephants, leopards to become residents. However, the sudden increase in tea garden activity recently in this region had led to several conflict issues and casualities. The regular monitoring of Mr.Avijan helped identify two resident elephant bulls that were frequently sighted and the root cause for conflict. So he decided to address the local communities of Panighata and Chenga on elephants and conflict situations
Despite the remote location of their villages and difficulty in commuting, over thirty-five individuals voluntarily attended the workshop in Panighata community Hall. Avijan, being a renowned photographer in the region, with the help of his expressive photographs and short video clips conveyed the story of elephants in Panighata and the situation of conflict today in the region. Avijan had an hour long slideshow and in detail narrated the story of the two resident bulls -where they came from, the importance of the elephant corridors and the current apathy amongst the residents. This interaction created a sense of empathy amongst the partcipants, and the desire to learn more about these elephant groups, their identification and how they can help avoid conflict situations in future. His social message was made clear that the absence of street lights, open defecation practices and most importantly the lack of communication amongst villages had to be addressed at the earliest. The movement or any sighting of elephants by the people of Panighata had to be communicated to nearby villages like Chenga, but the community lacked this responsibility. He encouraged the youth and elders in creating a network to monitor elephant movement and pass on the message to their neighbours.
Avijan has created messengers in Panighat to help pass on information and thereby working towards reducing conflict in this area. More such activities are in order in the landscape and shall be reported in the subsequent reports. It is only due to your small contributions that we are able to take such initiatives in the remotest of places. Thankyou once again.
Please Note: Avijan has permitted us to use his name in the report.
Belated greetings on World Environment Day! Our elephant project is managing to win hearts, all thanks to your support. In continuation with our last update, this month we bring to you another story of Human-Elephant conflict from another tea estate in West Bengal.
The Terai landscape in North-Western Bengal, extending from the Teesta chaur (Baikunthapur Division) through Mahananda WIdlife Sanctuary (MWLS) and southern parts of Kurseong Division to the Nepal border on the west, has been the epicentre of Human-Elephant conflict (HEC) in India. In the recent years, there has been an increase in human mortality, loss of property and crop due to the high ranging of elephants in search of food and lack of space. With acres and acres of tea gardens across this landscape, several daily estate labourers come in close contact with these gentle giants. With around 273 tea estates in West Bengal (as of 2015), the landscape is said to hold the highest degree of HEC in the country.
Bijaynagar Tea estate, is a vital link for elephant movement between Bagdogra Forest and Uttam Chandra Forest into Nepal. The road connectivity between Bijaynagar and other tea gardens like Hatighisha, Madanjote and others was once a common route used by people for transportation. When the frequency of elephant movement with herd size as large as 45 individuals and tea estate labour quarters in the area increased, the issue had to be jointly mitigated, looping in the Village heads, tea estate officials and villagers. Based on their discussions, it was evident that one of the reasons for conflict was due to lack of proper lighting in the Bijaynagar Tea estate. Sudden encounters with elephants at night, puts both parties under stress. When interviewed, villagers shared their fear of stepping out of their houses after dark. The death of a person and four gravely injured people in their village due to elephants in the last five years has given them every right to be scared of the estate jumbos. This has also resulted in deep seated resentment amongst the community. To address this apathy, Wildlife Trust of India (WTI) with the help of Mr Avijan Saha, a Green Corridor Champion (GCC) planned to install solar street lights and brighten up the area. After consulting the local Gram Panchayat and village level committee, the lights were placed near strategic points in Hatighisha village located within Bijayanagar tea garden, which would atleast help people from facing sudden uncalled encounters.
In the last two months, regular movement of elephants (herd having up to 50 individuals) has been recorded. When the villagers expressed how the solar street lights have helped gain back their confidence to venture without fear, the project seemed to have gained success.
As mentioned in the previous reports regular meetings with the villagers are being conducted focussing on dos and don’ts in an elephant habitat and simple conflict mitigation strategies that will help reinforce the need to conserve the heritage animal of our country. It has been heart-warming to see the change in the villagers’ attitude, all thanks to the support of GlobalGiving donors. We plan to initiate similar interventions in the adjacent tea estates of the area in the coming months.
Project reports on GlobalGiving are posted directly to globalgiving.org by Project Leaders as they are completed, generally every 3-4 months. To protect the integrity of these documents, GlobalGiving does not alter them; therefore you may find some language or formatting issues.
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