Elephant population upswings in Tripura

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Agartala, May 18 (UNI) The Tripura government has initiated a comprehensive proposal for the protection of wildlife with the publication of a survey report, indicating the increase of elephant population, while the concerned department has been asked to mobilise forest dwelling communities for the natural resource conservation process.

Talking to UNI here today, state Forest Minister Jitendra Choudhury said the population of wild elephants had increased substantially over the past six years and a total of 59 pachyderms, including 10 babies, were spotted during the latest census, which had only been 40 in 2002.

He said the department had planned to set up an elephant sanctuary at Gandhari, close to Amarpur subdivision along the Atharamura Hill Range to protect elephants and a fresh proposal had already been prepared for the next proceedings.

Mr Choudhury stated the Project Elephant was launched in February 1992 as a Centrally sponsored scheme, which was predicated on the need to focus conservation action on the Asian Elephant and its habitat, following reduction and fragmentation of habitat and consequent isolation of the population into small and genetically unviable units.

The conflicts between wild elephants and human population, lead to loss of human life, property and retaliatory killing of wild elephants, poaching of elephants for ivory and increase in mortality rate due to other causes, such as from transmission lines, railway lines, highways, passing through the elephant habitat and other natural causes, including floods, inadequate finance, infrastructure and human resources for proper implementation of management priorities at the field level, he underlined.

Considering the growing threat to the wildlife population, the state government had selected Gandhari and its adjacent areas ''but to make it possible, proper initiatives will have to be taken,'' Mr Choudhury said, adding reserve for elephants would be established in and around the Atharamura Hills.

He also pointed out that shifting cultivation had been identified as one of the main human impacts influencing biodiversity in Tripura and the Northeastern region, which had become a major cause of concern for the nature conservationists as well as the government machinery.

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