Improving the technical capability of the ground staff, deploying more personnel, treating conflicts as a landscape issue, improving elephant habitats and maintaining elephant corridors were the topics discussed at a workshop here on Thursday. The workshop was organised by the Forest Department.
Addressing the meeting, Forest and Environment Minister M.S.M. Anandan said that the increase in elephant population combined with human presence in the natural habitat, deviations in cropping pattern and obstructions in the corridor, were among the main reasons behind the human-elephant conflict.
The Government had taken steps to increase the availability of fodder and water inside reserve forests besides digging elephant-proof trenches and installing electric fences to prevent elephants from venturing into human habitations. The main policy objective, the Minister said, was to devise mechanisms that would protect the forests, wildlife and people at the same time.
Later, Mr. Anandan told journalists that the AIADMK regime had doubled the compensation for loss of life due to elephant attacks and had also implemented numerous schemes to protect people living near forest areas.
Mettupalayam MLA O.K. Chinnaraj said that the reasons for elephants straying into urban areas must be studied and measures taken to prevent it.
Besides District Collector Archana Patnaik, Coimbatore (South) MLA R. Doraiswamy, top forest officials including Forest Secretary Hans Raj Verma, Principal Chief Conservator of Forests (PCCF) and Chief Wildlife Warden V. Melkani, Principal Chief Conservator of Forests (Head of Forest Force) Vinod Kumar, National Tiger Conservation Authority Member A.J.T. John Singh, Rajeev K. Srivastava, Additional PCCF, Ajay Desai, World Wildlife Fund consultant and a host of others officials, experts, scientists and representatives of NGOs took part in the meeting.