By Lamphrang Nongspung
A serious concern is being raised over the possible extinction of the animals inhabiting the Nongkhyllem Forest Sanctuary in Ri-Bhoi district on account of the rapid illegal felling of trees for timber smuggling which is currently happening in the sanctuary.
It is learnt that at present, the forest sanctuary covers an area of 100 square kilometres including an additional area of 6.2 kilometres, acquired by the Government in 2002. Nongkhyllem sanctuary is the habitat for elephants, deer, wild pigs, amongst other animals although elephants number highest in population inside the sanctuary.
According to official sources, elephants which inhabiting the sanctuary are those which have migrated from the various Reserved Forests in Assam.
“Elephants are animals which migrate from one forest to another. But with the decline in forest cover the elephants are compelled to remain inside the Nongkhyllem Forest Sanctuary since areas around the sanctuary have quickly turned into human habitations,”official sources on Tuesday informed.
With the reduction in the area under the forests, official sources informed that animals are now venturing outside the forests into the adjoining villages. “It has become impossible for the animals to restrict their movements only to the forest areas since their habitat has become too congested,” official sources said.
The sources attributed the growing man-elephant conflict to the declining forest on cover because of illegal felling of trees and other human activities.
“Only in December last year, an employee of the Forest and Environment department was trampled to death by an elephant,” the sources said while adding that there are many unreported cases of man-animal conflict within the sanctuary in the past few years.
Meanwhile, official sources have expressed serious concern over the number of people owning arms along the areas close to the sanctuary, adding that there are 270 people who own licensed arms while many others own unlicensed arms. More....