Villagers take losses in stride to save a wild elephant near Dudhwa
Small herds of elephants migrate in and out of Dudhwa Tiger Reserve from across the border in Nepal. But occasionally these wild elephants come out of forests and raid crops along the periphery of the Tiger Reserve.
In mid-February of 2010, a male elephant ventured out of the southern boundary of this Reserve and begun to raid sugarcane and wheat crops in the Chaukhara area. He damaged many temporary watch towers, mud houses, water pumps and even electricity supply poles. Incidentally, WWF-India is working with villagers here on livelihood generation, fuel-wood reduction, mitigation of Human-Wildlife conflict and creating awareness on wildlife conservation.
Villagers act good Samaritans
In the face of such destruction, villagers would normally have been aggressive and would have retaliated against the elephant. But they did not do so and kept their patience. Every night when the elephant visited the village, instead of saving their crops the villagers would be concerned about the pachyderm’s safety. There were some damaged and live electric wires hanging low around the farms and villagers feared the elephant would accidentally come in contact with one of these wires and be electrocuted. They drove the elephant away from live electric wires and immediately informed local electricity office to cut off electric power supply to these wires, until they could be repaired. Already suffering loss of crops and property, the villagers spent five days without any electricity supply to their homes to save the life of this wild animal.
Says Mudit Gupta, Senior Project Officer at WWF-India’s TAL programme based in Palia “WWF-India team has worked hard in the area to motivate and create awareness among villagers for wildlife conservation. Surely this is proud moment for us”.
He adds, “It is noteworthy that one of these villagers Shri Harjeet Singh was earlier honoured jointly by WWF-India and Dudhwa Tiger Reserve in recognition of his and his family’s support for wildlife conservation in the surroundings of the village. This time his neighbours Shri Lakhveer Singh, Shri Dharam Singh, Shri Sarjeet Singh, Shri Sohan Singh and gram pradhan Shri Satpal Singh joined hands with him to save the elephant. We salute these defenders of wildlife who are setting an example for the entire region for the cause of wildlife conservation.”