Agartala: The number of elephants in Tripura has gone up from 38 to 47 as per the latest census report, a senior Forest official said on Wednesday.
Elephants are mostly found in Khowai and Gomati districts of the state, Chief Wildlife Warden Dr D K Sharma said.
In 2002 Tripura had 38 elephants but the lastest survey this year found 47 elephants, he said.
“In the latest survey this year it was found … that the number in elephants in Khowai district is 22 while it is 25 in Gomati district. Elephants are mostly found in these two districts”, Sharma said.
The Chief Wildlife Warden said the erection of barbed wire fencing along the 856-km long long border with Bangladesh has stopped the migration of elephants to the neighbouring country.
A forest department official said some 40 to 50 years ago, elephants were even seen on the streets of Agartala but their numbers started declining with the cutting down of forests for construction of a hydel power project on river Gomati.
There was a time, according to British surveyor John Hunter’s report, when elephants outnumbered humans in the state during the British rule.
With the loss of their habitat, the elephants started migrating to Bangladesh where forests were abundant, Sharma said, adding that a number of elephants had migrated to the Chittagong hill tracts in Bangladesh from the Gomati Wildlife Sanctuary.
Sharma said the human-animal conflict is comparatively less in Tripura compared to other states.
The forest department has decided to radio-collar the wild elephants to keep track of their movement. The device will provide the updates of the real-time locations of the herds and help the forest department officials to track their movement and take measures accordingly, he said.
“We have called an NGO for the work and they will start the work once the materials are imported. By winter this year the radio collaring will be done. We have decided to first cover the Khowai district,” Sharma said.
“The forest department has also decided to install beekeeping devices in the agricultural field to keep elephants away from the field. The elephants fear bees, so it keeps them away from the inhabitants. We have also suggested to the people to start beekeeping for generating livelihood and keeping the herds away at the same time”, the chief wildlife warden said.
Apart from that, the forest department has also made arrangements of adequate fodder reserves in the jungles to meet the thirst and hunger of wild elephants. Bamboo, banana plantations were made by the officials in the forest along with check dams constructed within the forest.
On the occasion of World Elephant Day, the state forest department has started an online awareness campaign, he added.