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Ramakanta Biswas

Cuttack: Amid rising instances of human-elephant conflict, the officials of Athagarh forest division in Cuttack district are successfully creating bamboo forest using seed balls to ensure proper habitat and food for the pachyderms.

Officials of the forest division are of the opinion that bamboo forest will meet the food requirement of the jumbos and they will not stray into human settlements and destroy food crops.

Led by Athagarh divisional forest officer (DFO) Sasmita Lenka, the forest officials are developing the bamboo forest in Khuntuni forest range using the seed-ball method.

A packed mixture of fertile soil, wet sand and cow-dung is first made and shaped into a ball and then a bamboo seed is inserted into the ball to ensure proper germination of the seed. This is done in such a manner that the seed don't ooze out of the ball or get destroyed during strong wind and heavy rainfall. Once the balls are ready, they are scattered in faraway and inaccessible places where the seed can take root after around 15 days.

As the bamboo shoots are relished by elephants, the forest officials are optimistic that it will meet the food requirement of wild elephants in their own habitats.

Maguni Behera, ranger of Khuntuni said, “Once the bamboo seeds germinate and take root, it will eradicate the food scarcity of elephants. While carrying out plantation in forest is costly, in bamboo seed balls, we can create massive bamboo plantation with less expenditure.”

Experts say that too much of human activity in forest belts can disrupt their natural tendency of healing and growth leading to drastic shortage of food for wild animals especially elephants who need quintals of food every day.

Manual plantation can be very challenging especially in core forest areas with less chances of re-growth so this is where innovative method like the seed-balls can become a game changer.

(Edited By Suryakant Jena)

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