Why in the news?
- The death of five elephants caused by trains colliding with them in a week has highlighted the gaps in efforts to reduce man-animal conflicts in the country.
- Human–wildlife conflict (HWC) refers to the negative interactions between human and wild animals, with undesirable consequences both for people and their resources, on the one hand, and wildlife and their habitats on the other. (IUCN 2020).
Instances of Man-Elephant conflict
- On November 26, the first accident occurred near Madukkarai in Coimbatore district, Tamil Nadu that has seen many elephant deaths on a rail track stretch that extends up to Kanjikode, Kerala.
- The second accident was near Jagiroad in Assam’s Morigaon district, four days later.
- A reply by the Project Elephant division of the Union Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change in May to a set of RTI questions highlighted reasons other than natural causes as having led to the killing of 1,160 elephants over 11 years ending December 2020
- 741 deaths were due to Electrocution
- Railway accidents accounted for 186 cases
- Poaching 169 and
- Poisoning 64.
- Installing hanging solar-powered fences, as has been planned in Tamil Nadu and Kerala and ensuring that there are no illegal electric fences or barbed wire fences.
- Planting citronella and lemongrass, as done in Golaghat district, Assam, to deter elephants.
- The participation of local communities is crucial and hence highlighting the critical role elephants play in biodiversity conservation especially to those living in areas close to elephant corridors is must.
- The proposals for elevated wildlife crossings or eco-bridges and underpasses for the safe passage of animals should also be expedited by the Environment Ministry and Ministry of Railways.
- Finding of the C&AG was that after the construction of underpasses and overpasses in the areas under the jurisdiction of East Central and Northeast Frontier Railways, there was no death reported.
- The authorities should also expedite other recommendations made by the C&AG such as a
- Periodic review of identification of elephant passages
- More sensitisation programmes for railway staff
- Standardisation of track signage
- Installation of an animal detection system (transmitter collars) and
- ‘Honey bee’ sound-emitting devices near all identified elephant passages.
- Finding long lasting solutions to the problem of man-animal conflicts is the sole responsibility of concerned state governments and the centre.