TRANS-BOUNDARY MEETING Giant Issue

Wildlife officials from Nepal and India discuss joining hands in curbing destruction by wild elephants<br>UMA KANTA KHANAL in Jhapa

Sept. 24, 2010, 5:45 p.m. Published in Magazine Issue: Vol.4, No.-08 September 24-October 7, 2010
Since 2036 B.S., according to locals, more than two dozen people have been killed in Bahundangi VDC, which is the gateway for elephants from India, alone. The wild elephants not only damage the crops but also knock down the houses of people. So, people of eastern Nepal are not positive about saving these pachyderms. They say that the animals should be killed.

The eastern Terai of Nepal has been affected by herds of elephants for many decades. They come from Assam in the peak season of maize and paddy. The situation becomes much panicky when herds of more than hundred elephants enter the villages. The villagers' fury peaks and they try to attack the wild animals.

In view of the increasing distance between the elephants and the human beings of the eastern Terai, the local authorities of Jhapa and the Indian State of West Bengal met on August 30 to discuss how to decrease the distance between them, saving both.

The Indian forest officers say that generating awareness to save the wild elephants is one way to go. Assistant Forest Officer of West Bengal Government for Kurseong Subdivision Narayan Chandra Roy said, "We have to make people aware not to attack the elephants. There is a biological need of the elephants too. So, if the elephants decline, our existence as human beings will also be in danger."

Nepal's team, including District Forest Officer, the representatives of Nature Conservation Society of Bahundangi and the media representatives had gone to Panighatta, West Bengal, to discuss the issue.

The discussion centred on this issue for at least three hours. Sudhir Kumar Koirala, DFO Jhapa, said, "The traditional method of chasing the elephants has not been effective."

He added: "We have come here to know how you are managing the wild giants."

But the Indian officers only focused on saving the wild animals.

Mr. Roy said, "The first thing is the corridor of the elephants has been blocked by the residences of human beings. They are not threatening our existence, instead, we are snatching away their living, food and movement."

The Indian officers also complain that the elephants have been severely attacked in the Nepal side. Bhupen Biswakarma, a ranger in Panighatta forest office, said, "The elephants are attacked furiously there and they die here."

The members of the Nepali team said that the Indian side should not leave animals to Nepal side in peak season of the crops. But the Indian authorities said that the boundary is not for the wild animals. They are free to move anywhere.

"We have to make a joint effort to reduce the effects of elephants in the villages of India and Nepal," DFO Jhapa, Sudhir Kumar Koirala, said. The Nepali representatives focused on the joint efforts to reduce the effects of elephants on the villages.

"In India, if a person is killed by an elephant, his or her family gets Rs. one lakh (IC) as compensation," a ranger in Panighatta forest office, Bhupen Biswakarma said, "If compensation is given, the people will think positively regarding the movement of elephants and begin to think about saving them.

"But in Nepal, no compensation has been given to the victims.” 
The discussion centred on this issue for at least three hours. Sudhir Kumar Koirala, DFO Jhapa, said, "The traditional method of chasing the elephants has not been effective."

He added: "We have come here to know how you are managing the wild giants."

But the Indian officers only focused on saving the wild animals.

Mr. Roy said, "The first thing is the corridor of the elephants has been blocked by the residences of human beings. They are not threatening our existence, instead, we are snatching away their living, food and movement."

The Indian officers also complain that the elephants have been severely attacked in the Nepal side. Bhupen Biswakarma, a ranger in Panighatta forest office, said, "The elephants are attacked furiously there and they die here."

The members of the Nepali team said that the Indian side should not leave animals to Nepal side in peak season of the crops. But the Indian authorities said that the boundary is not for the wild animals. They are free to move anywhere.

"We have to make a joint effort to reduce the effects of elephants in the villages of India and Nepal," DFO Jhapa, Sudhir Kumar Koirala, said. The Nepali representatives focused on the joint efforts to reduce the effects of elephants on the villages.

"In India, if a person is killed by an elephant, his or her family gets Rs. one lakh (IC) as compensation," a ranger in Panighatta forest office, Bhupen Biswakarma said, "If compensation is given, the people will think positively regarding the movement of elephants and begin to think about saving them.

"But in Nepal, no compensation has been given to the victims.” 

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