Dehra Dun : Having created hurdles for wild elephants by putting up development projects on their traditional migration routes in Uttarakhand forests and increasing encroachments on their natural habitat have pushed residents of Dhalwala area near Rishikesh to demand that the wild elephant who trampled a villager dead be declared a rogue and killed.
Forest officials here admit that the tracts along which the said tusker is roaming used to be a traditional migration corridor of wild elephants, but because of encroachments and constructions that have come up, it was finding itself coming in direct contact with man.
The tragedy is that rather than creating an environment where the pachyderms can again migrate along their traditional migration route, a short cut is being taken by declaring the animal a rogue and killing them.
In fact the Divisional Forest Officer of the area, RP Mishra, on continued pressure from the residents of the region, has recommended that the tusker be declared a rogue, wherea fter it can be killed.
It is now for the Chief Wildlife warden to take a decision in the matter and unless wild life lovers intervene in the matter, the wild elephant may have just have a few days more to live.
Rather than realizing the fact that they had encroached upon the corridor that the pachyderms used since decades for migration, the residents of the area came out in large numbers and blocked the national highway.
Their major demand was that the elephant be declared a rogue, compensation of Rs 10 lakhs be given to the family of the tailor killed by the tusker a couple of days back and employment to be given to his dependents.
Coming under pressure from the villagers and the commuters who had to spend hours on the blocked road, the concerned authorities also put pressure on the forest staff to declare the elephant a rogue. Eventually the forest staff had to yield and the matter is now with the chief wild life warden.
But the question is that with the forests being encroached upon by man and the wild elephant herds confined to certain forest ranges and not able to migrate to other ranges, are not getting enough fodder in their confined space to feed them.
This has forced them to move to the crops in adjoining villages to meet their fodder requirements. With the villagers coming out to protect their crops, there is continuous conflict between the pachyderms and the villagers.
Should things continue as they are, it is a matter of time that the elephants will go like the tiger and move towards being extinct in an area where large herds once moved freely.
The forest department rather than killing them by declaring them rogues should look for options of removing encroachments from their traditional migration corridors and even building a huge pathway under the Ganga Canal in Hardwar, which is the biggest impediment, so that the herds can once again move from one forest range to another and meet their fodder requirements.
A journalist with over 40 years of experience, Jagdish Bhatt was Editor, Hill Post (Uttarakhand).
Jagdish had worked with India’s leading English dailies, which include Times of India, Indian Express, Pioneer and several other reputed publications. A highly acclaimed journalist, he was a recipient of many awards
Jagdish Bhatt, aged 72, breathed his last on 28th August 2021 at his Dehradun residence.