Meghalaya to have another elephant reserve

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Shillong, Jan 20 (PTI) As man-elephant conflicts are onthe increase in Meghalaya, the state government has decided tocreate another elephant reserve in an effort to cut down theincidents.

�On an average, four to five people are killed in thestate by elephants every year apart from their attacks onhumans, their property and crop land. The man-elephantconflict in the state is quite intense,� Principal ChiefConservator of Forests V K Nautiyal said.

Of the total 22,000 sqare-kilometre geographical area ofthe state, the forest cover is 15,657 square kilometres. Butunlike in other states which have well-demarcated forest areasand reserves, most of the forested areas are not under thedirect control of the state government, Nautiyal said.

Only 1,027.20 square kilometres are under the control ofthe State Forest Department constituting only 4.58 per cent ofthe total geographical area of the state and 6.56 per cent ofthe total forest area of the state.

The remaining area is either private or under theindirect control and management of the Autonomous DistrictCouncils.

''''The situation here is different. These private forestareas are interspersed with human habitations and crop land.

This leads to frequent man-elephant conflicts in the zones,''''Nautiyal said. MORE PTI RTJ MD

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According to the latest elephant census done in 2008, the state is left with just 1,811 of the gentle giants.

Most of the pachyderm population is concentrated in theplains of South Garo Hills, West Garo Hills, West Khasi Hillsand Ri Bhoi district.

The forest department is in the process of declaringanother forest area as an elephant reserve.

One elephant reserve already exists in the Garo hillsbelt.

�A project is being conceived to declare a forest area inthe northern part of Ri Bhoi and West Khasi Hills districtsbordering Assam as an elephant reserve. An eco-compatibledevelopment scheme will be proposed for the area,� Nautiyalsaid.

The department will try to confine the elephantpopulation in the area and propagate crops not liked by theelephants, he said.

Besides, an extensive awareness programme is beingundertaken to minimize the conflict situation.

''''People tend to attack the elephants with fatal weapons,giving the animal festering wounds which make them ferocious.

This insensitivity among the people should be removed,� thePCCF said.

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