GUWAHATI, July 27 – Against the backdrop of an escalating man-elephant conflict triggered by degraded habitats of the Chirang-Ripu Elephant Reserve in BTAD, local communities have joined hands with voluntary organisations and the Forest Department to restore vast stretches of fragmented wildlife habitat.Over 300 villagers participated in a forest restoration drive along the eastern buffer of the Manas Biosphere Reserve in Baksa district, with Aaranyak and the Baksa-based Manas Chowki Ecotourism Society (MCES) taking the initiative.
The district administration, 33rd Bn of SSB, All Assam Gorkha Students’ Union and All Bodo Students’ Union also extended a helping hand in the endeavour.
Villagers of Subankhata revenue circle planted nearly 5,000 saplings of various local trees in about ten hectares of severely degraded forest land in Subankhata Reserve Forest under Batabari range in Baksa district.
Aaranyak and MCES have been continuing with their efforts to restore and protect the forests along the eastern buffer of the Manas Tiger Reserve for the last several years. “Protection of elephant habitat and securing corridors of animals is the primary objective of the exercise. At the same time, people's livelihood is also ensured through sustained water supply from these forests to the downstream villages,” Firoz Ahmed of Aaranyak told The Assam Tribune.
Alok Pathak, Range Officer, Batabari Range, and the BTC Forest Department extended their guidance in the endeavour.
With forest area rapidly dwindling across Assam, the elephant – long-ranging animal requiring lots of space, has been one of the worst sufferers. The consequent man-elephant conflict has taken a heavy toll of both elephants and humans.
Restoration of degraded forest is not an easy task, while ensuring safe movement of animals between fragmented habitats is the need of the hour.
Banamali Boro, EM, Handloom and Textile Bodoland Territorial Council, Hemanta Prashad Rajkumar, SDO (Sadar) Baksa district, Nagbongshi, Election officer of Baksa district, Atul Chandra Sarma, Asst. Commandant of 33 Bn SSB Rangia, Satan Kr Ramchiary, president of MCES, secretary of ABSU, presidents of AGSU, and a host of distinguished guests were present on the occasion.