In The Eastern Part Of India Resides The Chandaka-Dampara Wildlife Sanctuary. The Woodlands Is Located On The Fringes Of Orissa’s Capital City, Bhubaneswar
In 2001 it was estimated that The Chandaka-Dampara Wildlife Sanctuary had about 90 elephants living out a quiet, peaceful life.
But a recent survey has concluded that number has been decimated, and its cause is directly due to man's insatiable need to expand, no matter the cost.
For years India has been on a mission of habitat destruction and unrestrained expansion, the elephants naturally moved out in search of food, water, and lands that would be better suited for their herd.
Some herds made it to larger, more resourced forests, But once-contiguous corridors, have now been broken by highways, industries, villages, and towns, leaving elephants as well as many other animals stranded in areas that they are neither suited for, nor can it sustain them..
Many elephants were killed during their journey, while some made it through to safety, others like the Athgarh Herd became trapped, and are surrounded by human-dominated areas.
In 2012 the Athgarh herd arrived in the Athgarh area, but have since become trapped inside their small patch of woodland, with limited resources, in essence, they have become a “refugee” herd from the larger forests in the area.
The Athgarh herd elephants during the day take shelter inside their small forest and as dusk starts to usher in the night, these starving and thirsty elephants leave the safety of their small sanctuary in search of sustenance only to be greeted by an angry mob of Indian men.
These worthless human beings immediately hurl rocks, slam heavy sticks against boulders or tree trunks in an attempt to scare the elephants back into the forest.
Even in areas where there are no standing crops or towns to protect, men still come out in large numbers to block the elephants’ movements. Conservationists say that harassing elephants have now become a form of entertainment for these uneducated morons.
“I personally witnessed the horrific harassment of the herd in December 2016, and can say that it was a vile experience,” Cara Tejpal, a wildlife conservationist with Sanctuary Nature Foundation, who recorded the clash between villagers and elephants in December 2016, said in an email. “I watched these beautiful animals, so many little elephant calves included, being tormented for three hours that evening! And this is a routine that plays out regularly, week after week.”
While the forest department who keeps track of the herd's movements, knows exactly what has been happening on the ground, they sit by and do nothing and when petitioned, they still refuse to intervene on the elephant's behalf.
Meanwhile, local police act like frightened little children as they stand by and watch the mob chase the elephants and do whatever they can to frighten the majestic animals.
A short-term solution to this problem is rather simple. the Forest Department has very accurate information about the movement of the elephants and can provide details to the police as to where the elephants are expected to exit the heavily forested areas.
Armed with a probable location the police, will have ample time to cordon off the area. As the mob starts to gather they can warn them to leave the area and if needed can impose section 144 [law prohibiting unlawful assembly of five or more people] and arrest those most disruptive.
Continued coordination between the Forest Department and local police will ensure safe passage for future elephants through the corridors,
To tackle the problem, animal rights activist along with the Sanctuary Nature Foundation, have launched a public campaign using the hashtag #GiantRefugees on social media to appeal to Orissa’s Chief Minister to take action.
The conservationists also seek long-term solutions. These include protecting Chandaka-Dampara Wildlife sanctuary and allowing its wildlife to recover, and reviving corridors and improving connectivity between Chandaka and Kapilas Wildlife Sanctuary and the Satkosia landscape in the state.
The situation in Athgarh is dire, conservationists say. Elephants have died in this conflict, and people, too, have been injured and killed. And the conflict needs to be resolved soon.
“What is happening in Athgarh and Chandaka is a very good example of what is happening all over India, where large forested landscapes are getting smaller.
Once safe-zone corridors are getting broken by new highways and roads and our wildlife populations are getting decimated because of man's insatiable greed and his lack of caring for our planet's animals.
Click on any picture to open gallery viewer