Deaths Due To Human-Elephant Conflicts In Odisha: High-Level Panel To Probe

Bhubaneswar: A high-level committee will be formed by the Union Environment Ministry to probe deaths caused due to human-elephant conflicts in Odisha and Jharkhand, sources said.

The decision was taken at the 17th meeting of the Steering Committee of Project Elephant held on Friday at Periyar in Kerala. The meeting was chaired by Union Environment Minister Bhupender Yadav.

While Odisha has reported 322 human deaths in elephant attacks during the last three years, the highest in the country, as many as 291 people died in such attacks in Jharkhand, according to official data.

Notably, 13 unnatural deaths of elephants have been reported in Odisha in the last two months making it the biggest casualty of the pachyderms in a short span in more than a decade. Among them, at least 5 were poaching cases.

Regional workshops of stakeholders would be organised for mitigation of human-elephant conflicts, sources said adding that four such workshops would be held soon.

Human-elephant conflicts are increasing due to competition for resources with around 500 people dying in elephant attacks and 100 jumbos “killed in retaliation” annually, Yadav said at an event in Periyar to mark World Elephant Day.

Noting that managing human-elephant conflict is the major focus of the government, he said that in order to find a long-term solution, the Government is revisiting the elephant corridors of the country and had completed more than 50 per cent of the task involving key stakeholders.

Sources also said an inter-ministerial meeting will be convened with the Railways soon to discuss the issue of elephant deaths due to train hits.

Forty-five elephants have died in train accidents in eight states in the last three years, according to government data. Nineteen pachyderms died in 2018-19; 14 in 2019-20 and 12 in 2020-21.

At the meeting, it was also decided to celebrate 30 years of “Project Elephant” along with 50 years of “Project Tiger”, the sources added.

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