New Delhi: As many as 391 people died in 2014-15 due to human-elephant conflicts, triggered mainly by factors like habitat loss and shrinkage and degradation of their range.
But the good news is that compared with the last two years, the number of deaths of both elephants and humans has witnessed a decreasing trend.
According to the environment ministry data, 391 people and 39 elephants died in 2014-15 across India, as a result of the man-elephant conflict. Of the 391 people, West Bengal recorded the highest number of death at 89, followed by Assam, which recorded 54 deaths.
The total number of human and elephant deaths, however, has registered a decline compared with 2013-14 and 2012-13.
In 2013-14, 413 human and 72 elephant deaths were recorded, while 422 humans and 101 elephants died in 2012-13.
Since May 2014, environment minister Prakash Javadekar has taken a series of steps to tackle human-elephant conflict, including erecting bee and chilly fences.
In May this year, the ministry also set up a panel to study elephant migration in order to avoid human-elephant conflict. The ministry had also proposed to inject female elephants with contraceptive vaccine—in order to control their population in the wild.
There was an increase in expenditure towards the compensation paid for the loss of crops and property against last year. As per the environment ministry’s data, Rs.34.52 crore were spent on compensation in 2014-15 compared with Rs.30.29 crore in 2013-2014.
The Wildlife Trust of India, an environmental NGO, with the approval of the environment ministry, has conducted a study on the migration patterns of elephants and has documented 88 elephant corridors across the country. This study, however, does not cover issues related to human-elephant conflicts.
In various regions across the nation, wild elephants have been radio-collared from time to time during studies conducted by the Wildlife Institute of India, Dehradun, and Asian Nature Conservation Foundation, Bangalore. However, these studies have never collected real-time data about the movement of elephants, in order to minimize the human elephant conflicts.
India started Project Elephant in 1992 to protect Asian elephants, their habitat and corridors and address human-elephant conflict. The global estimated population of the Asian elephant, an endangered species, is 41,000-52,000. Of that, 29,300-30,700 elephants are in India alone, according to the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN).
In 2010, the central government declared the elephant as an animal of national heritage to scale up measures for its protection.