Wild elephants wreak havoc in settlements in SunsariIncidents of human-animal conflict are increasing with the shrinking of forestland, say conservationists.
A herd of wild elephants from the Koshi Tappu Wildlife Reserve has been wreaking havoc in the southern settlements of Barahakshetra Municipality in Sunsari for the past week.
The wild tuskers have damaged crops planted in hectares of land in Madhuwan, Rajabas and Prakashpur areas. On Sunday, the elephants tore down the wall of a concrete house in Madhuwan.
The locals have been terrorised since the elephants started entering human settlements. They have submitted an application at the municipal office, urging the local government to control the elephant menace and provide them compensation for the paddy, corn, wheat and vegetables destroyed by the pachyderms.
“I talked to the reserve’s warden and asked him to prevent the elephants and other wild animals from entering human settlements. Wild animals destroy crops worth millions of rupees every year. We have repeatedly asked the reserve administration to take the necessary initiatives to control wild animals, but nothing has been done so far,” said Mayor Nilam Khanal. “The reserve does not allow us to use firecrackers to chase elephants. It is the responsibility of the reserve to control elephant menace but it is indifferent about the problem.”
According to locals, a herd of 11 wild elephants has been marauding the area for the past week.
“The herd enters human settlements and damages crops and houses. The local people have to live in fear of elephant attacks,” said Kedar Bista, chairman of Ward No. 11 of Barahakshetra Municipality. He claimed that the wildlife reserve does not coordinate with the local unit to jointly work for the welfare and protection of the local people.
According to Bista, wild animals from the Koshi Tappu Wildlife Reserve destroy crops and properties worth around Rs 12.5 million each year in Madhuwan, Prakashpur and Rajabas areas.
“The reserve provides compensation after a long bureaucratic process and victims get far less amount than the actual loss they have to bear,” said Bista.
Conservationists argue that incidents of human-animal conflict are on the rise in the area, as the reserve’s forestland and the buffer zone areas are shrinking.
“Wild animals from the reserve enter human settlements in search of food. They should be relocated to a bigger protected area or the area of the Koshi Tappu Wildlife Reserve should be expanded,” said Ramdev Chaudhary, the warden at the reserve. He claimed that the reserve has been providing compensation to the victims of wildlife attacks as per the existing laws.The reserve, which spreads over an area of 175 sq km in Sunsari, Saptari and Udayapur districts, was established in 1976.