The death toll due to human-elephant conflict is increasing every year in Chhattisgarh. As least 65 people and 14 elephants get killed in the state every year, a government report said.
As per the government records, 325 people and 70 elephants lost their lives in the last five years with an average of 65 humans and 14 elephants per annum. The loss of lives, property and crops led to an extra burden of Rs 75 crore on the government.
According to reports, elephants from other states started migrating to Chhattisgarh in 1988, gradually increasing in numbers. Currently, elephants are found in Surguja, Bilaspur and Raipur forest circles of the state.
The conflicts are taking place largely due to the degrading habitats of the pachyderms, the report added.
As of now, there are more than 254 elephants in the state which move around in 19 herds. Of these, 121 elephants are in Bilaspur Circle, 110 elephants in Surguja and 23 elephants in Raipur Circle.
According to government sources, efforts to control elephants in the state started in 2005. For this, a resolution was passed in the State Legislative Assembly to start ‘Project Elephant’ and sent to the Central Government, requesting for financial support to build huge protected areas for the conservation of wild elephants where the elephants will get an abundant amount of water, food and other facilities in Raigarh, Jashpur and Korba.
In October 2007, the Union Government had given its consent to form two elephant reserves out of which one elephant reserve included areas of Bandalkhol and Tamor Pingla forests and the second one was to be the Lemru elephant reserve. However, only one reserve has been created so far.
In 2010, the central government declared the elephant an animal of national heritage to scale up measures for its protection.
Wildlife experts believe that protecting large tracts of forest will help conserve the jumbos and bring down incidents of human-pachyderm conflict.