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Stone Pelting on Tiger Cubs :Kanha Pench Corridor Becomes Conflict Zone

 Two tiger cubs- less than 6 month old- escaped the fury of a 5000 strong mob in a village located in Kanha-Pench corridor . Villagers tried to kill them by pelting stones when the cubs had reached a water body to quench their thirst. This issue  has highlighted again the plight of the fragmented tiger corridors. It also reminds the urgency to restore their sanctity. People Shouted Kill the Cubs Kill the Cubs  Wildlife is most vulnerable during summer, due to scarcity of resources. Water is the key limited resource inside jungles . Special monitoring ofwater holes should be carried out all along the corridors, to effectively deter such incidents, poaching of herbivores and poisoning of tigers and othercarnivores. In the scorching summer, the two cubs also reached a nearby waterbody . In the adjacent forest , the villagers were plucking tendu leaves- a minor forest produce  to  roll beedi , a thin cigarette or mini-cigar filled with tobacco flake and commonly wrapped in a tendu leaf. Th

MP May Face More Human Elephant Conflict After Adani Gets Coal Clearance In Chattisgarh


Human elephant conflict

Twelve  years  after Elephants were declared a national heritage animal with an aim to step up measures for their protection, a decision  taken by Chattisgarh seems to  have contradicted it. While clearing a coal mine,the state government is accused of ignoring the red flag raised by the Wildlife Institute of India (WII). Consequently human-elephant conflict (HEC) may rise to an alarming level in the neighbouring central Indian state of Madhya Pradesh. Instead of declaring the  nonoperational-coal mining area of Hasdeo Arand  Coal Field (HACF) a “no-go area”, as recommended by the WII,  Chattisgarh granted clearance for the Parsa coal block . Dominated by extensive forest cover , the mineral-rich HACF is one of the biodiversity hotspots of the county with several rare, endangered and threatened species of flora and fauna. They also include a sizable population of elephants. The HACF is located in Sarguja, Raigarh and Surajpur districts of Chattisgarh.

Situation is grave, don’t complicate it further

Human Elephant Conflict

Asian Elephant (Elephas maximus ) migrating from HACF take the route of Sarguja, Surajpur, Koriya to enter  Anuppur and Shahdol of Madhya Pradesh. In mid March 2022, elephants  migrating from   this route of Chattisgarh trampled  to death  six tribals in Shahdol district of Madhya Pradesh. These villagers were visiting  forest areas to pick mahua  flowers which fall on the ground   from Madhuca longifolia tree , an Indian tropical tree  also known as Mahua  and found largely in the central, southern, north Indian plains and forests, Nepal, Myanmar and Sri Lanka. The flower is also consumed by villagers for extracting country made liquor.  Traversing the   jungle corridor, the elephants have been migrating for long from Jharkhand to Madhya Pradesh via Chattisgarh.

Also readThe Great Elephant Migration: Can MP Chattisgarh join hands to Welcome the Jumbo ?

 A conservative estimate of 40-50 elephants use different parts of Hasdeo Arand region with abnormally sharp levels of human-elephant conflict – itself a consequence of fragmentation of elephant habitat in other areas. Mitigation of any further disruption to elephant habitat would be “impossible”, said the WII report seemed to have been ignored  and overlooked by the governments- both by Chattisgarh and the centre.Chhattisgarh human-elephant conflict situation is  grave. The state has about 1 % or  less than 300  elephants  of India's wild elephant population but  but high  very high levels of  human elephant conflict (HEC) over 60 human lives are lost every year due to conflict which is about 15 of the reported human deaths due to the conflict.

Also readRape of a Jungle :Palamu National Park 

Less than a year ago on August 2 2021, Bhupendra Yadav, Union minister for environment, forest and climate change addressed the issue of HEC in the Parliament ( Rajya Sabha) . He said HEC caused 1,401 human and 301 elephant deaths in India from 2018-2020, Some 115 elephants and 457 people died in 2018-19, while 99 elephants and 585 people died in 2019-20. In 2020-21 (upto December 2020), 87 elephants and 359 people lost their lives in human-elephant conflict. The management of wildlife, including mitigation and management of HEC , is primarily the responsibility of state governments or the administration of Union territories. In Odisha, Jharkhand and other elephant-range states including Chattisgarh , the habitats of elephants are fragmented making  these states more prone to man animal conflict. Opening of the Parsa coal block   for mining would further complicate the situation  in the conflict zone .

WII Warnings Ignored?

Human Elephant Conflict

The civil society working in Chattisgarh called it “a shocking revelation” that the Chhattisgarh state government had “concealed and ignored an expert report on impacts of mining in Hasdeo Arand to forward its consent for opening up Parsa coal block.” This report was necessitated by a 2014 order of the National Green Tribunal that had set aside the Forest Clearance for Parsa East Kete Basen (PEKB) coal block pending a comprehensive study of the environmental and biodiversity conservation impacts of mining in HACF. Prepared by India’s foremost wildlife research institute, the Wildlife Institute of India, the 277-page report details the rich biodiversity and carefully analyses the disastrous impacts of further mining in the region.  In one of its most significant findings, the report raised alarm saying, “Any further threat to elephants’ intact habitats in this landscape could potentially deflect human-elephant conflict into other newer areas in the state, where conflict mitigation would be impossible for the state to manage”.

Also readWhy MP is Denying 105- Yr Old Elephant a Guinness World Record

It recommended that except for the operational PEKB mine, the entire Hasdeo Arand area be declared as “no-go” and kept out of bounds from mining. It also mentioned that the existing conservation plan of PEKB coal blocks prepared by Adani are “basic and generic in nature” and would need to be substantially revised to mitigate the already devastating impacts that mining has had in the region. Adani Enterprises  is the mine developer and operator (MDO). The civil society alleged that Chattisgarh chose to ignore its key recommendations and proceeded to give its go-ahead for a Stage-2 clearance for Parsa coal block with undue haste based on a “draft ICFRE report” disregarding the carefully documented irreparable environmental impacts as well as the on-ground resistance and opposition from gram sabhas.

Conflict To Eextend To MP

Human Eelephant Conflict

Elephants have been migrating from east to west. And this would have been minimized from Chattisgarh to MP after the setting up of Lemru elephant reserve (LER),  proposed  to be spread over Korba, Katghora, Dharamjigarh and Surguja forest divisions of Korba, Raigad and Surguja districts. This includes a vast expanse of HACF.  But more mining in this pristine forest   seemed to have stalled the LER  project. Elephant sightings in the forest areas of Chattisgarh districts have become a sort of “pain and punishment for the forest staff”, said the department sources in Chattisgarh. The field staff many times ensures that the elephants migrate towards MP and this means “ peace for both, the  animal and the forest department staff”.  For this, forest department officials posted in MP districts bordering Chattisgarh claimed ,” elephants are driven deliberately to MP jungles”. The increasing human elephant conflicts in Chhattisgarh are leading to poisoning and electrocution cases. The same is feared in MP too.

Also read:  Naxals Spread Terror in Kahna Tiger Reserve   

So far, about 250 elephants have already crossed over Jharkhand jungles as they migrate from east to west . It is believed that  the Chattisgarh elephants had died either of poisoning or electrocution following man- animal conflict in  a large area as the giant animal moved from one place to another damaging  property, crops and even killing villagers.Wildlife experts expected Madhya Pradesh and Chattisgarh to join hands  and  work together in the direction of conservation of this wildlife heritage species revered and respected in Indian mythology. 

Images : Wildlife Institute of India 


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