Andhra Pradesh

Elephant herd pushed to the brink

Elephants in a field at L.N.Peta in Srikakulam district, Andhra Pradesh | File

Elephants in a field at L.N.Peta in Srikakulam district, Andhra Pradesh | File   | Photo Credit: Basheer

Around 10 elephants in the AOB region are reportedly starving due to lack of food and water

A herd of elephants along the Andhra Pradesh- Odisha Border (AOB) region is frantically searching for food and water, as drastic deforestation is stripping the region of its natural resources.

Occupation of forest lands and water bodies is forcing the elephants to enter human habitations in Vizianagaram district. This is leading to grave consequences, with one elephant getting electrocuted and another elephant meeting a watery grave in the Nagavali when it tried to cross the river in search of food.

The other elephants are reportedly starving due to non-availability of food and water in the AOB region.

Heavy diet

The elephants need a large amount of food every day. While they eat all kinds of fruit, grass, tree bark and roots, their preferred diet is sugarcane. An elephant eats 150-170 kg of vegetation and drinks around 26 gallons of water every day.

According to animal lovers, the government spends crores of rupees to pay compensation for crop damage but has never taken any steps to remove illegal occupations and ensure food and water for the elephants.

Green Mercy founder N.V. Ramana Murthy said that animals have the right to live in the forest but they are forced into conflict with humans due to rampant deforestation.

Three persons were killed by elephants last year. N. Pakeeru of Kemiseela village, K. Kasim Dora of Kuduma village and G. Chinnammi of Jiyyammavalasa were killed by the jumbos in separate incidents in 2019 in Vizianagaram district limits. The government sanctioned ₹5 lakh for the families of the deceased and ₹75,000 each for seven persons injured in elephant attacks. It has paid around ₹1.49 crore as compensation to 2,248 farmers for the damage of 2,378.12 acres in Jiyyammavalasa, Kurupam, Gummalakshmipuram and other areas.

A decade ago, the government had planned to build trenches but could not complete the project due to lack of funds. The trenches would have restricted the elephants to a specified area. The plan was aimed at improving required greenery and ensuring water for them. With the delay in construction of the trenches, illegal occupations have increased further in Veeraghattam, Palakonda and other places.

Coordination meet

To arrive at a solution for the man-animal conflict, the Forest Departments of Andhra Pradesh and Odisha conducted a coordination meeting on December 12, 2019 in Vizianagaram.

AP Chief Conservator of Forests (Visakhpatnam Range) Rahul Pandey, Regional Chief Conservator of Forests (Berhampur Circle) Suresh Pant and other officials decided to use drone cameras for the effective tracking of wild elephants. The officials decided to track the movement on a daily basis and share information immediately for better coordination between officials of A.P. and Odisha. Mr. Pandey said that the coordination meetings would be conducted once in every three months.

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Printable version | Feb 20, 2020 4:02:27 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/andhra-pradesh/elephant-herd-pushed-to-the-brink/article30653363.ece

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