Elephant Conflict, Odisha

Aditya Panda

Aditya Panda

Chosen as 'Picture of the Week'

Of all species of wildlife, elephants suffer most from human intrusions into their habitat. With their gargantuan appetites, they need extremely large tracts of forest to satisfy their seasonal nutritional needs. Today this 'elephant scape' is shrinking ever faster, putting the animals under severe psychological and physiological stress. Sentient beings with close family ties, the persecution by humans affects them very deeply. 

Human-elephant conflict is turning increasingly acute across elephant range in India. Relentless diversion of elephant habitats, loss of forest corridors that offer safe passage to migrating elephants, activities such as mining, construction of canals, railway tracks and highways that fragment forests, and even the ill-designed plantation of unpalatable trees in natural forests are together creating a deadly situation where direct, extremely volatile face offs between people and elephants have become a matter of routine. The loss of human life and property resulting from this is extremely high as is the death toll of elephants from conflict.

Here, in Odisha, a tusker –– part of a population of elephants that has been forced to abandon the Chandaka-Dampada Wildlife Sanctuary after it became too inhospitable for them –– wanders on a busy road as it struggles to survive in a small, isolated patch of forest and cashew plantations near River Mahanadi.

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