Uttarakhand forest dept, Wildlife Institute of India plan to put radio collars on elephants to curb man-animal conflict
The state government is waiting for the approval from the Central government before putting into motion the radio-collar exercise. State forest department officials said elephants usually venture into areas, where tents are set up for the Mahakumbh pilgrims.Updated: Jun 19, 2020 11:54 IST
Uttarakhand forest department authorities along with Wildlife Institute of India (WII) is planning to put radio collars on some of the elephants, which are prone to straying into human habitations, in a bid to prevent attacks on pilgrims, who are expected to congregate in Haridwar for the next year’s Mahakumbh.
The state government is waiting for the approval from the Central government before putting into motion the radio-collar exercise. State forest department officials said elephants usually venture into areas, where tents are set up for the Mahakumbh pilgrims.
Rajiv Bhartari, chief wildlife warden, Uttarakhand, said select elephants would be radio-collared after the Central government gives its nod.
“The radio collars are available with the state government. The WII authorities have also conducted a study. We’re only waiting for the Centre’s approval,” he said.
Last September, the Rajaji Tiger Reserve landscape in the state was chosen for a pilot project on man-wildlife conflict mitigation by the Union Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEFCC).
The MoEFCC, along with the German institution, Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ), conducted a national workshop on ways to lessen human-wildlife conflict in the region, which has been on an upswing.
Bhartari said GIZ authorities donated a Maruti-Gypsy vehicle, 15 and 13 radio collars for leopards and elephants, respectively, and kits for training three rapid response teams six primary response teams, respectively, to Rajaji Tiger Reserve authorities.
Rajaji officials said they have 13 radio collars for elephants, which would be used to develop strategies to reduce man-pachyderm conflict during the next year’s Mahakumbh.
Dr. Aditi Sharma, a senior veterinarian at Rajaji Tiger Reserve, who is supervising the selection of the elephants that will be radio-collared, said the precautionary drive would lessen the man-pachyderm conflict during the Mahakumbh next year, where hundreds and thousands of pilgrims are expected to participate.
She said the identification process of the elephants, which would be radio-collared is underway. Forest staff has also mapped the movement of the elephants in the area, she added.
Tedhipuliya, near Haridwar, has been found to be the most prone to man-elephant conflict, forest officials said.
“Those elephants, which stray into human habitations, will be radio-collared. We’ll get a sense of their movement pattern after they’re radio-collared and work out a mechanism to prevent man-elephant conflicts,” Sharma said.
The forest officials had started their preparations from last November, when man-animal hotspots were identified and geo-tagged.
Response teams at multiple levels were formed and a geo-tagged map was prepared by the Haridwar forest division authorities by collating information on all the conflict incidents over the past two years.
The geo-tagged map holds the key in providing precise information to the forest officials on how frequently a conflict occurred in a said area and it also helps them to devise an effective strategy to contain similar incidents in the near future.
Rajaji Tiger Reserve, a hotspot for human-leopard conflict in the state, reported last year that 23 people were killed in the reserve over the past five years.