Dimapur, Sep. 13: An awareness campaign for conservation of forest and wildlife to mitigate human elephant conflict and wildlife crime was organised by the Dimapur Wildlife Division, Nagaland Forest department, at Hajang Baptist Church, Sanis in Wokha on Sep. 11, with participation of 150 persons.
According to a press release by the department, the minister for Environment, Forest and Climate Change, and Parliamentary Affairs, CM Chang, stated that protection of forest and wildlife had been recognised long back in the Indian Constitution and the directive principles of the state policy.
“Our forefathers were hunters in the past. The state government of Nagaland had implemented the Wildlife Protection Act, 1972, since Dec. 18 1981, considering the importance of forest and wildlife for our survival,” he said.
He appealed to the people to protect elephants and come forward for declaring their land and forest for elephant based community reserve and avail benefits under the Wildlife Protection Act of 1972.
He then illustrated an example of protection of amur falcons by the people of the state which, as a result, the state has been recognised as the capital of falcons by the world community.
The principal chief conservator of Forests (wildlife), Satya Prakash Tripathi, briefed on the genesis of human-elephant problems in Wokha district and highlighted the policies of the state government and the ministry of Environment, Forest, and Climate Change for addressing the issue.
He also shared about the existing sanctuaries and the national park in Nagaland – Intanki National Park and gave a slideshow presentation on the concept of Community Reserves and Human-Elephant Conflict was also elaborated.
During a telephonic conversation with Eastern Mirror, Tripathi narrated that the migration route of the elephants falls under 46 villages in Wokha, four in Zunheboto, and two in Mokokchung district. “As it migrates the elephants destroy crops and human habitation, and inflict injury including death. At the same time, the elephants are also under threat from humans, he said.
He stated that such awareness among the people is needed since the elephants can neither be killed nor be translocated.
He explained that similar programmes will be conducted in other of Wokha and further, all over the state along with the minister for Environment, Forest and Climate Change, and his colleagues. “The information and proposals collected during the awareness will then be forwarded to the ministry of Environment, Forest, and Climate Change,” he assured.
Tripathi mentioned that ‘department neither get resources from the state government nor the finance commission.’ “We totally dependent on the ministry of Environment, Forests, and Climate Change,” he divulged while lamenting that the department are not in a position to address the villagers’ problem adequately.
Tripathi also remarked that the government is concerned about this issue and remedial steps are also on the process to prevent the elephant menace.
He appreciated the efforts put by the state government in notifying all community reserve areas into community reserves by the state government and subsequent funding by the ministry for the benefit of the department as well as the communities owning the areas.
During the programme, Wokha deputy commissioner, Dr. Manazir Jeelani Samoon, lamented how people are responsible for destroying elephant historical corridors and are only to blame themselves for the current situation.
In this regard he appealed all to come up with alternative ways to mitigate the problem. He stated that National Disaster Management Authority has recognized elephant problem in Wokha district as the state/local disasters’ activity. He stated that there is potential for developing Wokha district as a tourist spot as there are good number of wild elephants and good number of amur falcon visiting Pangti village every year. “The area can be developed on landscape level for which coordination among Forest department, Land Resource department and other allied departments are essentially required,” he stated.
He also made an emphasis on opening Aadhaar linked bank accounts in order to avail benefits under different schemes of the government.
Meanwhile, Mhathung Yanthan, advisor for Horticulture department, spoke about the current gravity of the elephant problem in most parts of Wokha district. He opined that the department should domesticate and tame the wild elephants, if there are means, in order to minimise the conflict.
He also advised the villagers under his constituencies to come up with elephant based community reserve at the earliest.
Superintendent of Police Wokha, Manoj Kumar, in his brief speech highlighted the fundamental duties of every citizen as laid out by the Constitution of India, Article 51A (g) to protect and conserve flora and fauna. He also stated that since 2015, every district has a coordinated unit ready to tackle wildlife crime. He appealed to the people to protect elephant to mitigate human-elephant conflict and wildlife crime.