Elephants: Northern West Bengal

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Herd of elephants
© WWF-India
Recently Govt. of India declared elephants as national heritage animal. Project elephant started in 1992 to provide ecological security to Indian elephants. Possibly as many as six of every ten wild Asian elephants live in India.

Elephant Conservation Issues

However over 40% of the Elephant Reserves in India are not under Protected Area or government forest. Although current population estimates of elephants in India generally show an upward trend, the selective elimination of the males has resulted in a skewed sex ratio in some parts of the country threatening the viability of elephant populations.

Human-elephant conflict is on the rise and is currently at an all time high. The growing human population and their encroachment of the elephant habitat has not only fragmented the habitat but has also led to degradation of the available habitat. Dependence on the forest for fuel, timber, livestock grazing and conversion of natural forest into monoculture plantation of tea, eucalyptus, have severely degraded the habitat.

Elephant population in Northern West Bengal is extremely stressed because of following reasons :
  1. Conflict due to conversion of Siliguri-Alipurduar rail line from MG to BG.

  2. Conflict related with transborder movement of elephants from Bengal to Nepal. 
     
  3. Conflict issues caused as they move through corridors outside forest that mostly pass through Tea Gardens. 
     
  4. Human responses like electrocution, poisoning and forceful driving.
West Bengal pays over Rs. 3 crore. / Year on elephant control measures and payment of ex-gratia relief, which comes to about Rs. 75,000 per elephant, i.e. highest in the country. 
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