Elephants are declining in the Bangladeshi Hilly areas.
The hilly district of Rangamati is called the city of a variety of nature. High hills on one side, dense green forest, Kaptai lake on the other side.
Nature is monotonous in harmony here. May the whole forest spread the air of peace. Sanctuary of various wild animals at the end of the hill.
These include wild elephants, bulls, Maya deer, black deer, hyenas, pigs, fish tigers, wild cats, reptiles, pythons, guisaps, chameleons, woodpeckers, hedgehogs and birds including carcasses, tia, shama, cuckoos, pigeons, wood. Stumbling is significant.
At present, the population of Rangamati has increased. As the plains are less than the hills, people use the hills as a place to live. That is why the forest is being deforested. Aquatic and wild animals are becoming extinct.
Meanwhile, wild elephants live in the remote hilly forests of Rangamati Sadar, Kaukhali, Kaptai, Language, Barkal, Jurachhari, Baghaichhari, Bilaichhari, and Rajsthali Upazilas of the district.
Due to deforestation, elephants are coming to the locality in search of food. Elephants are attacking people’s houses, and people are dying. People are also attacking elephant herds to survive.
Although the forest of Rangamati is called the abode of elephants, today, this giant animal is on the verge of extinction.
As per Chattagram Divisional Office of the Department of Wildlife and Nature Conservation, according to the IUCN survey from 2009-2019, 20 elephants have died in the hilly region in the last ten years.
Of these, ten are in the Lama Forest Division, and two are Pulpwood Forest Division of Bandarban, five are in Rangamati in Chittagong Hill Tracts South Forest Division, and three are in Rangamati Chattagram Hill Tracts North Forest Division.
Although a general diary (GD) was kept in the police stations of the respective areas centering on the killing of elephants, no one was arrested or prosecuted for the incident.
However, the people concerned have confirmed that Tk. 0.8 million have been provided with loss of life and property due to the elephant attack.
In the IUCN 2015-16 survey, 12 areas of Bangladesh have been identified as elephant corridors. The corridors include 3 under Cox’s Bazar South Forest Division, 5 under Cox’s Bazar North Forest Division, and 4 under Chittagong South Forest Division.
These are Ukhia-Ghumdhum border, Tulabagan-Panerchhara, Naikhyangchhari of Bandarban-Rajarkul. Bhramariyaghona-Rajghat, Tulatali-Eidghar, Khutakhali-Medhakchupia, Khasiakhali-Sairukhali, and Sairukhali-Manikpur.
Within the Chattagram Hill Tracts – Kaptai-Chunti-Barkal-Langadu-Kaukhali of Rangamati. Clashes are taking place between the two sides over deforestation and settlement in important elephant corridors. That is why elephants are attacking people; people are dying in elephant attacks.
Rocky Chakma, an environmental activist, and photographer from Rangamati’s Jurachhari Upazila told Bangla news, ‘The hills are being occupied. The forest is being destroyed. That is why there is a food crisis in hilly areas.’
Mr. Rafiquzzaman, Divisional Forest Officer, Chattagram Hill Tracts, told Bangla news, ‘Kaptai Upazila of Rangamati is an essential corridor for elephants. There are about 55 elephants in this area.
People are currently cutting down hills and building settlements in these critical corridors. That is why elephants are being restricted in movement, and deforestation is causing the food crisis.
He added, “It is very important to stop those who are deforesting. We should be aware of constructing houses in forest areas.”
Abu Naser Yasin Newaz, Divisional Officer of the Department of Wildlife and Nature Conservation, Chattagram, told Bangla news, “There are about 100-150 elephants in the Chattagram Hill Tracts at present.
An elephant needs 250 kg of food daily, but it is very difficult for elephants to get so much food every day in the hilly areas. Elephants mostly eat plants and herbs. There has been a food crisis for elephants due to deforestation.”