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Fresh steps to curb elephant deaths (India)

vendredi 13 mars 2009

The proposed measures, including habitat management & awareness programmes, were based on recommendations to mitigate the problem of elephants raiding crop fields and their brutal killings.

Stung by reports that over 250 elephants had died in the State’s jungle in just two years, the forest department is finally ready with an action plan. Its recipe for conservation : exclusive flying squads, translocation of pachyderm populations, elephant prevention trenches, and many more short and long-term measures, a list of which was submitted to the High Court on Thursday.

The proposed measures, including habitat management and awareness programmes, were based on recommendations by two committees set up by the department to mitigate the problem of elephants raiding crop fields and their brutal killings. After all, about 700 elephants had died between 2001 and 2007, a shocking state of affairs that only aggravated in the last two years.

Here’s more from the action plan : Help would be sought from tribals to remove weeds from the fields. For this, and the desiltation of water holes, a sum of Rs 75 lakh would be allocated.

To prevent the outbreak of diseases like foot-and-mouth and anthrax, the department plans to immunise cattle with the help of the veterinary department. Also on the agenda are an elephant prevention trench, solar fencing, and scaring camps during harvest seasons.

For the first time, the department will establish flying squads to drive away elephants from the fields. These squads, to be set up on experimental basis, will be stationed initially at Mysore, Chamarajnagar and Bandipur forest areas at strategic locations. Equipped with dedicated jeeps and communication devices, these squads headed by a forester will be despatched to the affected areas on the receipt of information on elephant movement or any damage.

Frequent meetings between the Karnataka Power Transmisson Corporation Limited and the departments of revenue, forests, police and agriculture are also on the cards to address problems like illegal power-tapping and electrocution of animals.

Translocation of elephants, ex gratia payment to farmers and empowering the DCFs to issue cheques immediately to farmers around the forest fringes are some other measures mooted by the department.

To prevent the exploitation of elephant habitat by mining, quarries, irrigation canals, resorts, hydel power projects, windmills, roads and high ways, power transmission lines and railway lines, integrated land use planning guidelines would be implemented as a critical long-term measure. A guideline for cropping pattern around protected areas could be evolved after discussions with agriculture scientists, economists and others, the report said.

During the hearing on Thursday, the High Court Division Bench comprising Chief Justice P D Dinakaran and Justice K L Manjunath sought to know whether there would be any more submission. Former Chief Conservator of Forests Basappanavar, who has been appointed to assist the court, said he required more time to make his submission and the matter was adjourned.

Deccan Herald March 13, 2009

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