Elephant herds are known to migrate across 350-500 sq. Km but increasingly fragmented landscapes are driving the giant mammals more frequently into human dominated areas, giving rise to more human-elephant conflicts, it is thus of crucial importance for both elephant and human habitats for maintenance of elephant corridors. The more the fragmentation of the landscape, the more the elephant corridors and the conflicts.
The elephant corridors inBagthy valley are getting narrower and constricting in many areas as compared to the last 5-6 years back because of agricultural activities, both settled and jhum cultivations, logging, coal mining and construction of Agricultural link roads and other similar such human activities.
The then and now observations (2006-2019) are worrying. The observation indicates dramatic degradation of elephant corridors, foreg. 21.8% of corridors are free of human settlements in 2019 as compared to 23.9% in 2006 and 45.5% have 1-3 settlements in 2019 compared with 42% in 2006.in terms of land use, only 12.9% of the corridors are totally under forest cover in 2019 compared to 24% in 2006. It is now crucial that the involvement of community in conservation is a paramount importance. Eviction or relocation of villagers is not possible as the Nagas are inherent to the their land holding pattern and to do the same with the elephant is not possible either and it therefore depends upon the attitude of the people living in Wokha District for restoration of wild habitats and the corridors and avoiding the use of the crucial migratory routes is the only appropriate way to avert human-elephant conflicts.
In the last decade about a dozen human lives and many properties have been lost due to human-elephant conflicts and many elephants are also killed in retaliation. Though, the Government authorities may be trying the possible ways and means to content the conflicts of humans and elephants, it would be a Herculean task to achieve the desired goal unless the local communities and NGOs imbibe a participatory approach to tackle the escalating elephant menaces.
Jess T Murry