Keonjhar: Forest officials are using ‘animal-animal’ conflict to curb man-animal conflicts in Keonjhar district.
The foresters have been playing audio clips of tiger growls for six months now to keep elephants from raiding crops and entering villages.
Elephants usually do not venture into areas where tigers reside. “We distributed hand-microphones with recordings of tiger growls to the forest personnel,” the Divisional Forest Officer (Keonjhar), Swayam Mallick, informed.
“In a recent incident, many elephants started to retreat quickly and silently after we played the recorded tiger growls,” the DFO was quoted as saying by DownToEarth magazine.
Villagers are living in constant fear of elephants rampaging through their fields, with vegetables, sugar canes and several other crops ready for harvest. In 2019-20, Odisha recorded 115 human casualties and 132 injuries due to man-elephant conflicts.
For decades, firecrackers were used to drive away herds headed towards the villages. But in the past, elephants were injured in cracker accidents.
Last year, a 15-year-old pregnant elephant died after accidentally eating a cracker-filled fruit, triggering outrage across the country.
Chilies and chili bombs were also used to deter elephants till Uttarakhand high court banned the practice in 2019. “Now the recorded tiger growls is the only way to check the human-elephant conflict in the state,” Mallick said.
Last year, the method was used successfully in Similipal National Park in Odisha, he added.
“Mother elephants with calves and lone elephants may retreat quickly after hearing the roars of the tigers,” said LAK Singh, a wildlife researcher who used to work with the Odisha Forest Department.