March 15th, 2016
Source: Hindustan Times | Image Courtesy: guim.co.uk hindustantimes nelive
Yes! You heard this right – various wildlife preservation organizations that were concerned about an elephant corridor which passed through the Ram Terang village in Assam had been negotiating with its villagers. The local forest department, the Karbi Anglong Autonomous Council, UK-based NGO Elephant Family, and Netherlands-based International Union for Conservation of Nature, were in conversation with the 19 tribal families in this village for about 5 years. They had put their heads together to find a solution to the problem that the village was positioned on a corridor that was frequented by wild elephants. About 1800 elephants used this 2.5 km long corridor. This resulted in the villagers trying to protect their fields from getting raided by the elephants which were in turn harmed in the process.
A Christmas gift to the elephants
Starting on 25th December last year, 11 of the tribal families started shifting base as a Christmas gift (sort of) to the elephants. The Japan Tiger and Elephant Fund helped in planning and funding the relocation which has been mutually beneficial to man and animal. The initiative has cost approximately Rs 1 crore. “When we first approached the Terangs, naturally no one wanted to move,” says Dilip Deori of WTI.
However, the villagers soon understood the logic that it was mutually beneficial to the villagers and the elephants. The former got 1.3 acre of arable land, a toilet, a bathroom (amenities largely unavailable at the original site), and solar power (totally absent in the former village). Instead of slash-and-burn farming they can now practice settled farming. Moreover, each home in the New Ram Terang village is a replica of the old homes in the former village.
“Our new village is nice. We have got our houses, and also a community hall, and farmland to practice settled cultivation,” says village headman Khoi Terang to Hindustan Times.
Animals need their space too!
The above mentioned corridor connects the the Nambor-Doigrung Wildlife Sanctuary with eastern Karbi Anglong, en route the Kaziranga National Park according to Abhijit Rabha, additional principal chief conservator of forests in the Karbi Anglong Forest Department. Thus, it is a vital corridor for the passage of elephants. Being creatures of habit, elephants follow the same paths as they migrate from one habitat to another.
‘There have been previous instances of corridors being secured in Kerala and Karnataka,’ says Sandeep Tiwari, deputy director of the WTI. However, this was the first such instance in the north-east corridor. After the relocation of these 101 residents, next in line is Tokolangso village. Having seen the benefits accrued by relocation of one village, the residents of the next one are already convinced about moving.
Kudos to the Terangs for exchanging this gift of mutually beneficial co-existence between the villagers and the elephants! The Logical Indian community wishes that Tokolangso village would also successfully relocate!