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With nine elephants killed in the last four months in Assam’s Udalguri district, the human-elephant conflict has taken a serious turn. Nineteen persons were also killed as elephant herds destroyed standing crops and dwelling houses.
“As many as 19 persons have been trampled to death by herds of wild elephants that came out of at least four reserved forests in the district,” said Udalguri Deputy Commissioner Thaneswar Malakar.
Official statistics reveal that of 19,892 hectares of reserved forest area in Udalguri district, over 5,100 hectares has been either under encroachment or cleared of forests, causing rapid loss of elephant habitat and blocking of corridors. “In Rowta reserved forest, 2,342 hectares out of 7,739 hectares has been encroached or destroyed. Likewise, of 7,090 hectares in Khalingduar reserved forest, over 1,365 hectares has been encroached upon,” said Jayanta Das, honourary wildlife warden of the district.
But the worst case of encroachment is the Bhariabkunda proposed reserved forest, which comprises of 3,543 hectares, but everything is only on paper. So is the status of the Kundarbil proposed reserved forest, where of the 992 hectares, only 72 hectares is left.
Samudra Gupta Kashyap