The number of elephants is increasing in the Chittagong Hill Tracts North Forest area as a result of the forest department’s initiative to resolve the conflict between elephants and humans. Elephant Response Team has been formed to protect elephants. Compensation is given in case of crop damage and loss of life due to elephants. This reduces human-elephant conflicts. Officials of the forest department said that the project is under process to permanently bring back the elephants from the Mauza forest to the protected forest.
Elephant habitat and range are under threat in the Chittagong Hill Tracts due to the construction of houses in the hill forests for settlement and burning of forests for jum cultivation. This sometimes increases the incidence of elephant attacks on human settlements and crop fields. In this situation, Chittagong Hill Tracts North Forest Division has come forward to resolve the conflict between people and elephants.
An Elephant Response Team was formed by identifying 5 ranges of Lagayo elephants in Pablakhali Wildlife Sanctuary. Team members work to raise awareness among people to protect elephants. They also warn about the location of elephants to avoid damage.
Zainal, a local resident, said, ‘If the elephant harms us, we do not harm the elephant. If elephants are harmed, we inform the government. Even earlier, the victims have received compensation. Advise locals on how to reduce damage caused by elephants. Let us warn the general public about the location of the elephant.’
The forest department says compensation is scrutinized for crop damage and loss of human lives due to elephants.
Pablakhali Range Officer Sajib Kumar Majumder said, ‘Tk 50,000 compensation is given for crop damage, Tk 1 lakh in case of injury by elephants and Tk 3 lakh in case of death. 27 lakhs compensation has been given to 108 victims.
According to the Divisional Forest Officer, Kachalong forest protection project is under process with the aim of returning the elephant to the forest area and its permanent solution.
Chittagong Hill Tracts North Forest Division Divisional Forest Officer Rezaul Karim Chowdhury said, ‘There is conflict between humans and elephants. The government is trying to compensate. But the elephant should try to return to the forest. For this purpose, projects have been given to foreign donors including the government. If this 5-year project is implemented, the elephants will leave the locality and return to the forest.’
According to Forest Department data, there are 260 wild elephants across the country including Chittagong Hill Tracts.