Ninety elephants killed in 17 years in Bangladesh
By Zeba Tarannum
This year to date, 11 elephants were killed. Of them, seven were killed by electrocuted, and the rest four were shot dead. And out of 11 dead elephants, three were three-year aged.
In 17 years, people killed 90 elephants in the country. Among them, only 11 elephants have been killed this year. This is the estimate of the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) and the Department of Forests of Bangladesh.
Concerned agencies and the department officials say, the number of elephant roaming route is declining rapidly in the country. Three elephant corridors have been closed in the last six years.
Due to these reasons, elephants are not able to use regular movement routes. The animals are trying to move through human habitation under compulsion. And people are attacking and killing these elephants in panic.
According to the IUCN and Forest Department of Bangladesh, there were 500 elephants in the last century; it reduced to 263 in 2019. Among those, 55% of the country’s elephants reside in Cox’s Bazar area.
This year all the incidents of killing elephants have taken place in the forest areas of Cox’s Bazar and Chattogram Hill Tracts. Until 2016, the incident of elephant killing by human more common in Jamalpur and Sherpur areas. However, for the last three years, elephant killings are raises in the Cox’s Bazar area.
According to Mihir Kumar Dey, the Conservator of Forest for the Wildlife and Natural Conservation Department of Bangladesh, Elephant roaming path is rapidly declining. As a result, the conflict between human and elephants is increasing.
Addressing the residents around the forest, he said if the elephants damage the crops, then they will make up for it. Last year, compensation of Tk. 53 lakh was paid for crops damaged due to elephants. Initiatives have been taken to increase the compensation further (1 million = 10 lakh).
In 2017, Rohingya camps were set up in the elephant roaming areas, Teknaf and Ukhia. Earlier, two government installations were set up in two elephant corridor areas in Ramu.
In the meantime, since last year as the construction of the railway line in Cox’s Bazar has started, the area for movement of elephants in Fasiakhali, Chunati and Medhakachhapia forests has reduced.
Some risks were identified in the research conducted by IUCN in 2019 on elephant roaming. It said forests and roads for elephant movement in Cox’s Bazar, Chattogram and, Chattogram Hill Tracts are being occupied regularly.
Crops are being cultivated by cutting the forest, and this causes the food crisis for elephants. The paddy cultivation is increasing outside the forest also. Because of this, when the Aman paddy ripes, the elephant comes out of the forest to eat it. At this time, some people are killing the elephants by electrocution and shooting.
According to Raquibul Amin, Country Director of IUCN Bangladesh, Bangladesh needs an action plan for elephant protection. Their habitation and roaming areas need to be protected. So, the elephant can move freely.