Shillong, June 14: To ensure safeguarding of lives and property and to check the rising instances of man-elephant conflict in Meghalaya, the state Forest and Environment department has identified six elephant corridors for the elephants to pass through. The State Board for Wildlife, which met earlier this year under the chairmanship of Chief Minister Mukul Sangma, had called for the need to restore and recreate wildlife corridors, particularly elephant corridors that existed in the state to facilitate free movement of wildlife from one place to another, news agency The North East Today report.
An official with the State Forest and Environment department said that though the elephant corridors have been identified, the problem comes up since the corridors does not have any legal backing and most of the corridors pass through private lands. “We have spoken to people and we will most probably have to acquire land for the purpose,” the official said.
Reacting to a query about the growing instances of man animal conflict in the state, the official admitted that very little can be done to tackle the problem since human population is increasing and they are encroaching into elephant habitat. He however said that the department has started the community reserve initiative under which people conserve forest and in around the village and the initiative is showing positive outcomes. In addition, the department is also creating awareness among people by urging them not to encroach into forest areas since elephants often come out in search of food.
Earlier in April, several agenda, including proposal to declare Emangre Reserve Forest in South Garo Hills as Wildlife Sanctuary under Sec 26 of the Wildlife Act, wildlife clearance for improvement of Jowai-Ratacherra road which falls under eco-sensitive zone, payment of ex-gratia for victims of wildlife, establishment of sanctuaries for indigenous and endemic species of fish, establishment of good intelligence network for protection of wildlife, etc., were brought before the Board for its consideration.
On the issue of acquisition of land for wildlife sanctuary, the chief minister said the approach should be to make it attractive to the people by incentivizing with remunerative returns, adding that the objective of wildlife conservation should be linked to sustainable livelihood for the people. The approach should be adopted wherever there are potentialities for wildlife; the community should be given the responsibility with proper support, he said.