Are people becoming desperate to kill elephants? Without hesitation that the cycle is killing elephants, nothing will happen to them? These questions have come to the fore after the recent killing of three elephants in Chittagong and Cox’s Bazar.
Urging to analyze the cause of such violence, experts say that regular monitoring is needed along with legal initiatives to protect elephants. Not just lawsuits, but exemplary punishment.
The body of an elephant buried four days ago was recovered on November 13 in Chakriya Harbang area of Cox’s Bazar. The 15-year-old elephant died after falling into an electric trap set to protect the crop.
On November 8, the carcass of an elephant was recovered from a paddy field in Sonakania Union, Satkania area of Chittagong. This elephant also died to get an electric trap.
Besides, another 12-year-old elephant was shot dead on November 9 in Purnagram bit of Eidgaon range of Cox’s Bazar forest department.
One death after another in the conflict between elephants and humans over food as habitat shrinks further threatens the survival of the ‘endangered’ animal. The elephant environment is getting smaller.
Rakibul Amin, resident representative of the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) in Bangladesh, told bdnews24.com: “This is a worrying situation. Elephant-human conflict has existed before, will continue to exist.
“Elephants have died before. In the elephant-human conflict, people have rushed, elephants have died. But the elephant has been killed so brutally, I have never heard of it before. How come people are so violent? ”
He said that economic, social, political and law and order issues need to be fully analyzed in the elephant-human conflict.
“Why are people so desperate? Is it financial, is it a matter of governance? Or without hesitation that the cycle of killing elephants will not be anything? Illegally possessing a gun, killing a precious animal of the state, not caring. I think it’s a deeper problem. “
Elephant killing is not going to be stopped
According to the Department of Wildlife Management and Nature Conservation, 43 elephants have died between January 2019 and November 13 this year. Of which 16 are in Chittagong and the rest are in Bandarban and Cox’s Bazar.
Of these, 19 died due to illness, five due to old age and others due to man-made causes. In addition, several elephants have died after drowning or falling from a hill.
According to the Forest Department, nine elephants have died in the last three years to trap electric wires. Of these, four were killed in Chittagong, one in Bandarban’s Lama and the other four in Cox’s Bazar.
According to the IUCN survey, there were 26 wild elephants in Bangladesh till 2016.
Besides, there are 72 privately owned elephants, three in zoos and 11 in two safari parks across the country. Forest officials also believe that some elephants have been bred at different times.
Where is the crisis?
Forest officials say compensation is paid for crops damaged by elephants, the price of which has been increased. Various assistance has been extended. But there is no way to stop the killing of elephants.
Rafiqul Islam Chowdhury, Chittagong Divisional Forest Officer of the Wildlife Management and Nature Conservation Department, said the movement of elephants was being blocked at various places. The elephants are entering the crop fields due to food crisis due to deforestation.
He told bdnews24.com, “Many people are killing elephants by setting traps to protect their crops.”
He said development was taking place in various places and Rohingya settlements had sprung up in most parts of the hilly region of Teknaf. Habitat has shrunk and the conflict between elephants and humans over food is increasing. People are also being made aware in various ways.
“Yet the elephant is dying. A case is also being filed for this, ”said the forest official.
Chittagong South Forest Department official said. Shafiqul Islam told bdnews24.com, “We have filed cases at different times. Five people and three others have been charged in the Harbang and Satkania incidents. ”
The forest official could not confirm whether anyone was convicted in any of the cases.
ASM Zahir Uddin Akon, director of the wildlife crime suppression unit of the forest department, told bdnews24.com:
“There are at least two things that need to be done at the moment to save elephants. One is that no crop can be cultivated in the forest department land. Another is that in every case a case is being filed, according to the law the cases have to be monitored properly.
“We have to work to handle the case so that the accused party is punished under the law,” he said. We have not seen any exemplary punishment for killing elephants. “
Eleven elephant corridors have been identified in Chittagong and Cox’s Bazar areas. Of these, four corridors are under Chittagong South Forest Department- Chunti-Satghar, Laltia-Baraduara, Sukhbilas-Kodala and Narichha-Kodala.
Cox’s Bazar North Forest Division consists of three – Ukhia-Ghumdhum, Tulabagan-Panerchhara, Naikhyangchhari-Rajarpul.
Besides, Bhomriya Ghona-Rajghat, Tulatli-Eidgarh, Puchakhali-Medhakchupia are under the southern division of Cox’s Bazar.
The Chittagong-Cox’s Bazar railway line is being constructed along the three routes of elephant movement in the Chunti range.
IUCN Resident Representative Rakibul Amin said, “The conflict between elephants and humans is on the rise. The traffic was light at this time of night. Occupying their abode, the elephants will be a nuisance.
“Elephant management initiatives need to be taken to resolve the conflict outside the forest. If the movement of elephants is obstructed, more conflicts will increase.
“Many of the elephant corridors are out of the forest,” he said. There are khas, forest, private lands. Who will maintain it?
“The forest department cannot do this alone. We need a multi-sectoral arrangement. Railways also need to protect elephants and forests. If we can’t unite everyone, there will be no elephants. ”
Suggestions for quick compensation and integrated measures to reduce conflict
Chittagong South Forest Department official said. Shafiqul Islam said that elephants have been following the same path for generations. But people have now started cultivating them in hilly areas as well.
He told bdnews24.com, “This is ruining the elephant environment. People are going to the fields in search of food, and people are setting various traps to protect it.
“Naturally, elephants do not easily harm humans. If he is not bothered. But people stumbled upon the elephants. Frightened by this, elephants are harming people.
“If an elephant destroys a crop field, the farmer is compensated. Which has been increased more than before. However, they are trapping and many elephants are dying in it. ”
Shafiqul Islam said that work is being done to make people aware of elephant protection. When the elephants enter the locality, they are asked to intimidate them by blowing firecrackers, lighting torches or lights or making noise without obstructing their movement.
Elephant Response Teams are being activated and forest-dependent families are being provided financial assistance in addition to afforestation in the hills under a project called ‘Sufal’ to resolve elephant-human conflict.
Nature conservationist IUCN Resident Representative Rakibul Amin said: People would not be so desperate.
“If it is possible to monitor the movement of elephants with the help of technology, many conflicts can be reduced. Success has come in these two areas in South India. It is also possible to reduce conflict by using compensation and technology.
“People will be harmed, you will get compensation. If you are desperate, you can’t keep the elephants. This is a matter of great fear. We need an issue where there will be no crime. “