Odisha to procure special elephant-rescue vehicles from WB

Bhubaneswar: Taking note of the growing man-animal conflict, Odisha will shortly procure specially designed ‘gaja’ vehicles to rescue and drive away elephants from human settlements, informed chief wildlife warden of Odisha, Sandeep Tripathy today. The vehicles, equipped with sirens, tranquilising tools and a heavy duty crane, will be procured from neighbouring West Bengal.

Tripathy informed that four such vehicles will be procured in a phased manner. Similarly, there are also plans to procure two other special vehicles from Kanha Tiger Reserve in Madhya Pradesh to shift herbivorous and carnivorous animals.

“We are also planning to go for solar fencing on private land to put an end to crop depredation which is also another area of concern. This aims at seeking people’s cooperation towards protecting the animals as well as crops and human lives. The project will be implemented in PPP mode,” said Tripathy.

Official sources said the solar fencing on private land will be taken up on a pilot project basis in Angul, Baripada, Rourkela, Sambalpur and Bhubaneswar. Besides, the Forest department has also moved the State government to amend the Wildlife Protection Rules so that compensation can be released within one week in case of loss of human lives and crop damage by wild animals.

“The proposal to hike the compensation amount to Rs 5 lakh from existing Rs 4 lakh is now under active consideration of the State government,” Tripathy added.

Official data indicated that 680 people lost their lives in attacks by elephant and other wild animal in different parts of the State between 2011-12 and 2018-19.