The Forest Department of West Bengal government is planning to grow crops that are favourites of elephants on vested lands adjacent to jungles that connect the forests with the nearby villages.
According to Forest Minister Jyotipriyo Mullick, the initiative has been mooted to provide adequate food for the elephants so that they do not enter the villages in search for food.
"This initiative, if successful, will bring down instances of human-elephant conflict in these regions to a great extent. The Forest Department has already initiated survey work to identify the vested lands, and once the suitable land is identified, farming will start there under the supervision of the forest officials and staff," Mullick added.
It is learnt that the survey will be conducted in both the forest belts in North Bengal and South Bengal. A pilot project has already started covering the three districts in North Bengal, namely Darjeeling, Jalpaiguri and Alipurduar.
In the next phase, the survey work will start in the forest belts of South Bengal.
"This is for the first time that a survey of this kind has been initiated by us," the minister said.
A senior official in the Forest Department said that the idea of farming came to the officials following a somewhat similar and successful model adopted by the residents of Latabari village in Alipurduar district, where the villagers stock a portion of the farm products produced by them as food for the tuskers at the entry points to the village.
The incidents of human-elephant conflict, which was frequent in that village in the past, have come down substantially in the recent past.
Wildlife experts like former principal chief conservator of forests, Atanu Raha, too feel that this is a very effective and scientific way involving elephant psychology to avoid human-elephant conflict.
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