Suryakant Jena

Bhubaneswar: With the rise in human-elephant conflict in Odisha, the state forest department is trying to do its bit by expediting the disbursal of compensation to victims of the menace and doing everything possible to avert mishaps on both sides, PCCF (Wildlife) Sandeep Tripathy informed. His comments came on the backdrop of recent man-elephant conflicts in some parts of the State.

We cannot stop development and technology from entering every nook and corner but we cannot also think to take risk with the lives of the elephants

- Sandeep Tripathy, PCCF, Wildlife

"We have urged the Wildlife Trust of India (WTI) to prepare a comprehensive report on the management of all animals including elephants in the State so that mitigation can be minimised," said Tripathy.

"The Forest department has a revolving fund under which 10 percent compensation amount of Rs 4 lakh is paid to kin of elephant attack victims immediately after the incident. However some rules and procedures lead to delay in disbursement of the amount. We are trying to expedite the process so that people get ex-gratia within a week or two at maximum." he said.

It may be noted that at least 82 people were killed in separate elephant attacks during 2017 till February. The casualties are significantly higher than 2016-17, when 66 persons were killed in elephant attacks. A total of 570 people lost their lives due to elephant attacks between 2010-11 and 2017-18.

The number of elephant mortality is equally disturbing. On an average, 73 elephants have died per year from 2010-11 to 2017-18. As many as 618 jumbos have died during the same period, a report by the Wildlife Society of India stated.

Wildlife expert Bijay Ketan Patnaik said that human-elephant interference cases are the most predominant ones of all man-animal conflicts in the state.

Elephants are losing corridors and it is also difficult for the government to form new ones. Several other factors like poaching, electrocution, accidents, sharp reduction of habitats and human interference have added to the fatalities

- Bijay Ketan Patnaik, Wildlife expert