The Arunachal Pradesh forest department and Wildlife Trust of India (WTI) on Monday distributed 10,000 kg of rice to some 100 households around Pakke Tiger Reserve affected by human-elephant conflict. The relief measure under a ‘grain-for-grain’ programme is being supported by the UK-based David Shepherd Wildlife Foundation and Lakshmy Reddy.
"People residing in the vicinity of Pakke are highly-affected by wildlife crop depredation problems. During 2011-2012, wild elephants extensively damaged agriculture crop for 100 families of poor farmers. The grain is being distributed to these families as a measure to provide them some relief," Pakke Wildlife Division’s divisional forest officer Tana Tapi said.
WTI had conceptualised the grain-for-grain scheme toward reducing instances of retaliations against jumbos under a study funded by the US Fish and Wildlife Service. Launched in the 862 sq km Pakke Tiger Reserve in 2005, the concept now finds mention in the ‘Gajah’ report prepared by the Elephant Task Force in 2010.
"This is not compensation, but rather a relief provided to the families affected by the loss of crops," WTI’s Northeast regional head Sunil Kyarong said. "Through this scheme, we are creating a bargain to ensure conflicts don’t go out of hand.”
Some 400 humans are killed in conflicts with wild elephants in India each year and 100 elephants killed in retaliation.