‘Hamar Haathi, Hamar Saathi’: Jharkhand starts elephant bulletin on radio to check man-animal conflict
People, be aware. A herd of 18 elephants was moving around in Dhanbad district’s Tundi block since March 26 and it could stay for a few more days.
Another herd of 12 was spotted in Kutingya village in Simdega district and an elephant each in Chandwa and Barwa Toli in Latehar districts.
The warning and the information is from a unique three-minute broadcast on an FM radio channel that the Jharkhand forest department started to check growing man-elephant conflicts in the state.
This special elephant bulletin — called Hamar Haathi, Hamar Saathi or My Elephant, My Friend, was aired at 4.30pm on Sunday.
The radio jockey informed listeners about the locations where herds of elephants have been spotted and the direction in which they might be headed. The jockey advised the listeners to be vigilant.
“We have tied up with a private FM channel to spread awareness about elephant movements and prevention required to reduce life and property loss,” said principal chief conservator of forest (wildlife) LR Singh, informing that the bulletin will be aired twice daily — at 8.30am and 4.30pm.
Jharkhand along with Chhattisgarh and Odisha is home to 10% of the country’s elephant population, and account for approximately 65% of human casualties in conflicts with wild herds or stray bulls.
The forest department’s record says 277 people were killed by elephants in Jharkhand in the past five years, including 56 in 2017. Casualties on the other side is rising too as 40 elephants were killed in five years, including 13 in 2017.
According to the Indian Institute of Science (IIS), the state’s elephant population in 2012 was 688, which came down to 679 in 2017. But Jharkhand’s situation is better than the national average as the country’s elephant population dropped from 32,347 in 2012 to 27,312 in 2017.
“Timely information about elephant movement in villages could help check man-elephant conflicts. Even as we have a WhatsApp group and elephant tracking system, the information doesn’t reach remote villagers. In a bid to inform the villagers, the elephant bulletin was started,” Singh said.
He said the radio FM is popular in Jharkhand and so it was chosen to carry “information regarding the presence of wild elephants away from their natural habitat or in the vicinity of human habitation”.
“People will also be given suggestions and instructions to deal with the elephant menace,” he said.
Divisional forest officers (DFOs) across Jharkhand have been asked to provide inputs on elephant movement in their zones by 11am. “The Ranchi DFO wildlife will compile the information and pass it on to the radio channel,” Singh said.
Elephant-affected villages have welcomed the forest department’s move. “Elephants mainly attack at night. Information about their movement will help us take precautionary measures,” said Hari Mahto, a resident of Nichitpur villager in Ranchi’s Torpa block.
Casualties in five years
Deaths in 2017