From January 1, 2020 to July 10, 2020, at least 14 elephants have died in and around the forests in Coimbatore region, prompting the need to study the reasons behind it.

Elephants in and around Coimbatore region have died in large numbers in the last six months. The TN Forest department has formed an expert committee to study the reasons behind the deaths. File Image
news Wildlife Tuesday, July 14, 2020 - 09:21

The Tamil Nadu Forest Department has set up an expert committee to study and reduce the number of unnatural deaths of elephants in the state, as well as minimise human-wildlife conflicts concerning elephants.

“On studying human wildlife conflict in Tamil Nadu for the past 15 years, it is found that the spillover incidents of elephants outside the Reserve Forest area into the adjoining agricultural fields and nearby habitation is in the increasing trend. The Forest Department is taking various measures, like elephant-proof trenches, solar fencing, wall construction, wildlife compensation and other various mitigation measures,” the department said in its order.

Adding that the main goals of the committee would be to prevent or minimise unnatural deaths of elephants and to reduce human-wildlife conflicts, the order stated that Dr Shekar Kumar Niraj, the Additional Principal Chief Conservator of Forests (Wildlife) will be the Chairperson of the committee. S Ananda, the District Forest Officer of Madurai will be the Member Secretary of the committee.

The committee will also have nine members who are experts in the field of study — elephant experts Ajay Desai and Sivaganeson, Dr Arivalagan (Indo-American society), veterinarians Dr M Kalaivanan, Dr A Predeep and Dr Sreekumar (TANUAS), Boominathan (World Wide Fund), Nitin Sekar (Coordinator, WFF) and a representative from the Wildlife Crime Control Bureau, Chennai.

The committee will study the elephant population between 2006 and June 30, 2020 and submit year-wise reports on the same by December 31, 2020. Apart from studying elephant movement and man-animal conflict, the committee is also expected to study the socio-economic structure of the villages adjoining the forests where human wildlife conflict occurs often and suggest suitable measures to address the issue.

The step to set up a committee comes after at least 14 elephants died in 2020 in Tamil Nadu’s forest areas, thus prompting questions on the reasons behind the deaths and the need to conserve the endangered species.