‘Friends of Elephants’ group launched

The support of local community residing in the areas bordering forests was vital to prevent human-elephant conflict, District Forest Officer V. Thirunavukkarasu said here on Sunday.

While several measures had been initiated by the Government, it was only with the help of villagers living in the vicinity of forests could this issue be tackled effectively, he said while addressing the inaugural function of ‘Friends of Elephants’ group, formed jointly by ‘Osai,’ an organisation working in wildlife protection, and Tamil Nadu Forests Department, Coimbatore division.

Elaborating on the measures taken so far, he said that more than 210 km of elephant-proof trenches had been dug in Coimbatore division with plans for more trenches this year. While this had helped achieve success in preventing elephants from venturing out of forests, the works have not been completed.

While nearly 1,700 km of solar fences erected in Tamil Nadu, including 100 km in the Coimbatore division, Mr.Thirunavukkarasu said that they required constant maintenance and the results had been mixed.

He informed that incidents of human-elephant conflict began to increase since 2011 with 81 people killed by elephants in Coimbatore Forest Division in the past 11 years. In 2012, wild elephants had ventured into human habitations more than 3,000 times in this division.

Mr. Thirunavukkarasu said that this year, 88 new torch lights would be provided to people living in the villages frequented by elephants. The Department had also established 32 waterholes in the forest areas. As many as 250 field staff and 120 anti-poaching watchers were working almost round the year to drive elephants back into forests.

Speaking earlier, K. Kalidasan, OSAI president, said that ‘Friends of Elephants’ would work towards getting early information on elephants venturing out of forests and prevent people from teasing wild elephants. Veerapandi S. Vijayan, Chairman of Periyanaickenpalayam Panchayat Union; M. Nasir, Forest Range Officer, Periyanaickenpalayam; S.M. Natarajan, Forest Range Officer, Coimbatore, took part.

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