Chhattisgarh forest department to launch campaign for using bio-fertilizers after deaths of 6 elephants

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After the death of six elephants in northern part of Chhattisgarh in last one month due to toxicity and electrocution, the state forest department decided to launch an awareness campaign in northern plains to encourage the usage of bio-insecticides and bio-fertilizers.

The forest department issued orders to divisional forest officer (DFO) of Dharamjaigarh in Raigarh district, where maximum elephants were electrocuted in last 10 years, to take necessary steps to contain such incidents.

This month, total six elephants died in Chhattisgarh in four districts of the state. Carcasses of two tuskers were recovered from the Pratappur forest range in Surajpur district and another elephant was found dead in neighbouring Balrampur district.

Later, two elephants were electrocuted in Dharamjaigarh under Raigarh district and a calf died after getting stuck in a marshland in Dhamtari district.

“We are doing a research in Balrampur and Surajpur districts where three elephants died due to toxicity and we will start a campaign to encourage farmers of the that area for usage of bio-fertilizers and bio-insecticide, which is less harmful, if consumed by elephants. As per the crop pattern, most of farmers are engaged in sugarcane production hence the awareness could be easily done. Secondly, if farmers in some of these areas, are using chemical fertilizers/insecticides, we will ensure that it should be stored in such a way that whenever elephant raids the house, it should be beyond the reach of animal – storing it some higher place of the house or by digging the fertilizer in the ground,” said Arun Kumar Pandey, additional principal chief conservator of forest, while talking to HT.

It is worth mentioning that a team of Project Elephant visited the state after the death of six elephants and also made similar recommendations to check such fatalities, officials informed.

“Dr Selvan, a scientist of Ministry of Environment and Forest and Dr Prajana Panda , national coordination of Project Elephant , who came here after the deaths and enquired about each and every death, also believed that these deaths are accidental deaths not wilfully done. They have made similar recommendations to us, on which we are working,” said PCCF adding the department is also talking to Agriculture department for availability of bio-fertilizers.

The officer further said that all the three deaths which took place due to toxicity were due to consumption something which was toxic and the department is investigating about it.

However, wildlife activists believe that it is not easy for the forest department to make the farmers switch from chemical to bio-fertilizers.

“Is there any market of bio-fertilizers from where the farmers of these areas can get it ? Is it easy for farmers to switch from chemical to bio-fertilizers? The forest department should made this clear since the awareness drive is going on in these areas for last few years,” asked Meetu Gupta, member of the State Wildlife Board and wildlife activist.

The forest department has also written to the divisional forest about cases of elephant electrocution in that area.

“About 40 per cent of the total electrocution deaths of the elephants took place in Dharmjaigarh forest division hence an order has been issued to the forest officers of the region to take measures in this regard,” said a senior forest officer.

The order states that the forest department should ensure that 11 KV electric line, which has caused deaths of the elephants should be above 7.5 metres above the ground-level and insulated electric wires should be used in these areas.

“The department has also directed the forest officers to coordinate with Chhattisgarh State Power Corporation and find out each and every illegal connection or live wire in these areas,” said senior official said.

As per the Chhattisgarh forest department in the last 10 years, the state has recorded an increase in the population of wildlife, including elephants whose number rose from 225 to 290 during the period.

In view of this, chief minister Bhupesh Baghel recently issued necessary guidelines for the monitoring of wild animals in the state forests and improving measures for their conservation.

Notably, North Chhattisgarh is home to around 240 wild elephants, which roam in plains of the state. Several reports of human-elephant conflicts surfaced in last few years in the region.