Apeejay Tea and WWF announce outcomes of 3-year collaboration on Human-Elephant Conflict management in Sonitpur | WWF India

Apeejay Tea and WWF announce outcomes of 3-year collaboration on Human-Elephant Conflict management in Sonitpur

Posted on
24 August 2018
Guwahati: Apeejay Tea and WWF-India today announced the outcomes of their successful partnership (2015-18) to prevent and manage Human-Elephant Conflict (HEC) at select areas in Assam. The three- year partnership between Apeejay Tea and WWF-India was a first of its kind to support HEC management measures in Assam’s Sonitpur district, particularly in the tea plantations. 

Announcing the outcomes of the successful partnership with Apeejay Tea, Dr. Dipankar Ghose, Director, Species and Landscapes, WWF-India said, “WWF-India’s 3-year long partnership with Apeejay Tea has yielded positive impacts for managing human-elephant conflict in Sonitpur district. Through intensive conflict management strategy in the conflict prone plantations, a range of initiatives have been implemented which were found to be successful in reducing losses related to human-elephant conflict.” 

The result of this three-year partnership has long term significance for both WWF-India as a conservation organization and for Apeejay Tea as a corporate partner, an important stakeholder in human-elephant conflict management in Assam. As part of the partnership, WWF-India worked closely with the Apeejay Tea management, residents and the local community to manage HEC in Sonitpur through holistic solutions in four of Apeejay Tea’ 17 estates in Assam  – namely Borjuli, Ghoirallie, Dhulapadung and Sessa Tea Estates - located in Sonitpur.

Ms. Renu Kakkar, Director CSR, Apeejay Surrendra Group said, “More than 50% deaths caused by human elephant conflict were recorded from tea gardens in Sonitpur when Apeejay Tea and WWF India decided to work together. At that time Apeejay Tea’s four estates in Sonitpur were affected by HEC as were the other tea gardens in the district. Apeejay Tea was perhaps the first tea company to fund an intensive conflict management strategy in Sonitpur. As a donor as well as a victim of HEC, the successes of our partnership with WWF-India have brought us valuable insights on solutions.” 

Low cost solar power fences installed across the Apeejay Tea estates have demonstrated effectiveness in minimizing HEC related loss to human life and property, a concept that has already been adopted by many government and non-government agencies in the state. A scalable bio fence, using thorny bamboo was also introduced to prevent the entry of wild elephants into vulnerable areas of the tea garden when ready. Regular village level meetings & interaction, Anti Depredation Squad orientations and street plays were important components to create awareness on elephants and HEC management. 

Going forward, WWF- India and Apeejay Tea today announced that a broad human-elephant conflict management protocol and strategy across all tea gardens in the Brahmaputra landscape was the need of the hour as is evident from the results of their partnership.“Apeejay Tea will be setting up a Platform of Collaboration between other tea companies and WWF to enable WWF to collaborate with them as closely and as successfully as it has with Apeejay Tea. Based on our learnings from the 3- year long project, we believe that a multi-party collaboration will aid WWF to implement large scale interventions across all tea gardens in the landscape and develop a broad human-elephant conflict management protocol followed by all,” Renu Kakkar added.

A consistent approach to manage conflict related to elephants across Assam’s tea gardens could help protect Asia's largest terrestrial species, and reduce loss of property and human and elephant mortalities. “At WWF India, we 

believe that we will be able to scale up these initiatives to other plantation areas with the support of the local community, Assam Forest Department, elected public representatives (MPs/MLAs), and civil administration,” added Dr Ghose. 

A positive change in attitude of residents of Apeejay Tea estates towards elephants has been noted by the Assam Forest Department officials. Apeejay Tea and WWF-India have documented successful strategies in Apeejay Tea Estates into a 15- minute educative film ‘Hamara Ghar’ which can be used for managing human elephant conflict by other tea gardens.
 
The key project outcomes from the three-year partnership:
 
Reduction in loss to property and number of human & elephant deaths
  • Financial losses in Apeejay Tea Estates as a result of HEC have reduced by 74 % in the last three years.
  • Reduction in number of human & elephant deaths due to human-elephant conflict in Sonitpur: 3 elephants and 11 human beings in 2017 as compared to 8 elephant deaths and 16 human deaths in 2013.
  • Crop damage by elephants in the Nagaon division down to 120 acres in 2017 as compared to more than 442 acres in 2016, due to installation of solar fences.
Solar powered fences and bio-fences to help check HEC
  • Conflict has reduced by 90%, after the installation of 136 km of low cost solar fences in North Bank Landscape in partnerships with communities, Assam Forest Department, local MLAs and other stakeholders. Of this, 15.5 km is in Apeejay Tea Estates and 17 people have been trained for their maintenance. About 2,00,000 people are benefiting from these fences installed around sensitive establishments like schools, public health centres and residential areas.
  • 12.5 km of fence of thorny bamboo has been planted and is maintained by Apeejay Tea.
  • Solar street lights have been installed in 28 vulnerable locations inside Apeejay Tea Estates
  • Seven Early Warning Systems have been installed -six units of Passive Infra-Red systems in Apeejay Tea’s Dhulapadung and Sessa estates and one Active Infra-Red system in Sessa TE.
  • On 111 occasions, wild elephants have been successfully driven back to the nearby forests with the help of trained captive elephants or kunkis in the first year of the project.
  • Two nurseries of the Thorny Bamboo saplings have been developed and maintained in Apeejay Tea Estates holding nearly 10,000 saplings. .
Training and Orientation programmes for ADS members
  • 14 orientation meetings on HEC management measures have been conducted in 3 years of the project.
  • Field training on HEC management has been provided to more than 1,000 frontline staff and members of anti-depredation squads (ADS) in Sonitpur, Lakhimpur, Dhemaji and Nagaon districts, at the fringe of Kaziranga National Park.
  • 70 Anti-Depredation Squads formed and more than 1600 members trained in Sonitpur of which 20 ADS and over 300 members were trained in Apeejay Tea’s estates.
Awareness and outreach activities
  • 47 street plays, 20 film screenings and 1000 posters have been used in the HECM communication campaign.
  • Over 8000 people living in Apeejay Tea estate areas and neighboring villages have been made aware to manage human elephant conflict.
For Media Queries, please contact- 
Vinita Singh, Apeejay Tea
Email: vinitasingh@apeejaygroup.com
M: +91 9330992015
 
Rituparna Sengupta, WWF-India
Email:rsengupta@wwfindia.net
M: +91-9810514487
 
Indira Akoijam, WWF-India
Email: iakoijam@wwfindia.net
M: +91 9711692252
 
About Apeejay Tea 
Apeejay Tea, an Apeejay Surrendra Enterprise, is amongst India’s oldest and 3rd largest tea producer. It has 17 tea estates in the prime tea growing areas of Tinsukia, Sivasagar and Sonitpur District of Assam spread over 50,000 acres. The Estates are ISO 9001: 2008 certified and are under Ethical Tea Partnership. Two premium estates Khobong & Budlabeta are HACCP Certified and nine of the estates are Rainforest Alliance Certified and all the estates follow the Sustainable Agricultural Network standards. Apeejay Tea acquired Typhoo, UK's third largest and an over 100-year-old iconic British tea brand, in 2005 which is today retailing in nearly 50 countries globally including India. To know more, you could visit us at www.apeejaytea.com 

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