Anti-depredation squads launched to tackle men-animal conflict

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HT Bureau

GUWAHATI, Dec 5: With the conflict between humans and wild animals taking a serious turn, the Assam government on Thursday launched anti-depredation squads across 15 major human-wildlife conflict affected districts to mitigate the menace.

Assam chief minister Sarbananda Sonowal in presence of Assam environment and forest minister Parimal Shuklabaidya launched the squad at a function here.

The state forest department has engaged specially trained 50 frontline staff to handle conflict situations.

100 more staff will be trained in the coming days. The anti-depredation squads will be equipped with all logistics required for mitigating the conflict. The squads will be currently equipped with 150 numbers of 12 Bore pump action guns, 15,000 rounds of rubber bullet ammunition and other essential items. The forest department has also provided two vehicles to each squad.

Sonowal said that, loss of lives of both humans and animals is unwarranted and the squads must spread awareness about avoiding man animal conflicts.

“Peaceful coexistence is must for man and animals and squads would be a great addition to Forest Department in order to reduce casualties in conflict situations,” Sonowal said.

He emphasised on the need to bring the casualties to zero by completely reducing man animal conflict situations and urged the people of the state to cooperate with squads in spreading awareness about animal behaviour.

The chief minister also distributed weapons and equipments to the squads at programme.

Speaking on the occasion, forest minister Parimal Suklabaidya said, “Human-elephant conflict is now become a common phenomenon. We are now trying to reduce it. All the staffs of the 33 divisions of the state are engaged for reducing the conflicts.”

“63 people have been died in human-elephant conflict in the state in this year so far and 62 wild elephants also lost their lives. The Assam Chief Minister has directed me to take appropriate measures to mitigate the problem. We have identified 15 such locations where most such type of incidents happened. After discussions with the top officials of the forest department, we have decided that, we will provide two vehicles to each location, two barrel guns, rubber bullets, dress etc. The team will be alerted 24 hours. This force will help our permanent force,” Suklabaidya said.

The minister further said the state forest department will involve the local villagers, NGOs with this mission.

According to official figure, a total of 359 people were died in man-elephant conflicts in the state in past four years. Apart from it, 1169 man-elephant conflict incidents were reported in the state during the period.

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