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Inception workshop on human-elephant coexistence held in Udalguri

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HT Bureau
GUWAHATI, June 22: 
Aaranyak, in collaboration with Udalguri district administration and Dhansiri Forest Division, organised a multi-stakeholder inception workshop in Udalguri to address the importance of a multi-dimensional approach in achieving human-elephant coexistence.
Udalguri district has been identified as one of the hotspots for human-elephant conflict (HEC), with a distressing record of 190 human and 85 elephant deaths since 2010. To mitigate HEC and promote coexistence, a collaborative effort involving multiple stakeholders is necessary.
Dr Alolika Sinha, a conservation biologist from Aaranyak, stated, “Given the ground reality in the district, this inception workshop provided a platform to prioritise the issue and seek cooperation from all line departments and public/private agencies to work towards the common goal of mitigating HEC.”
The workshop was attended by Dr Sadnek Singh, the deputy commissioner of Udalguri district, who highlighted the need for consolidated and innovative approaches involving tea gardens, civil society members, and various line departments to comprehend and mitigate human-wildlife conflict (HWC), particularly involving elephants.
Dr Bibhuti P Lahkar, a senior scientist with Aaranyak, presented the current HEC situation in Assam, with a focus on Udalguri, and shared Aaranyak’s multi-pronged approaches in reducing HEC and facilitating coexistence.
Dibakar Das, the divisional forest officer of Dhansiri Forest Division, emphasised the importance of minimising negative human-elephant interactions. He proposed action-oriented approaches such as habitat creation through plantation in barren areas, cooperation from tea gardens in supporting Anti-Depredation Squads, organising outreach campaigns to educate locals about elephant behaviour, and collaborative efforts to address issues related to local alcohol production in tea gardens, which attracts elephants.
Raj Kumar Xalxo, commandant of 61 Battalion SSB-Bhairabkunda, pledged full support in reducing HWC and offered assistance through his Response Relief Team (RRT) to manage HEC. Other stakeholders, including wildlife activists, representatives from tea gardens, and government line departments, also shared their perspectives and suggestions on promoting coexistence and addressing HEC challenges.
The workshop, supported by SBI Foundation, aimed to establish a foundation for collaborative efforts towards human-elephant coexistence.

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The Hills Times
The Hills Timeshttp://www.thehillstimes.in
The Hills Times, a largely circulated English daily published from Diphu and printed in Guwahati, having vast readership in hills districts of Assam, and neighbouring Nagaland, Meghalaya, Arunachal Pradesh and Manipur.
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