Elephants on the Line, a programme organized last year to mitigate man-elephant conflict in the villages bordering India-Bhutan launched in association with Udalguri administration and Dhansiri Forest Division, Udalguri since last six months. The programme was sponsored by North Carolina State University, USA and USFWS. EOL recently organized three village level awareness and demonstration workshops in three remote villages namely- Gitibari, Ganeshghat and Santipur in Udalguri district bordering Bhutan on March 21. “Elephants on the Line” team comprising Dr.KK Sarma,HOD,College of Vety Science, Khanapara, Guwahati; Environmental journalist Mubina Akhtar (who is also the Hony. Advisor of Assam Wildlife Board) ; Jayanta K Das,EOL Coordinator,Assam part; Dr.Pranjal Bezbarua ,GU along with Raju Brahma,ACF,Udalguri and local EOL members visited three human elephant conflict hit villages in Udalguri district. The team organized live demonstration on the dos and don'ts for villagers residing in HEC villages. All the three villages mostly inhabited by Adivasi,Bodo and Nepali people had been victims of human elephant conflict sine decades due to ignorance and illiteracy. EOL members used to teach them to prepare chilly sticks/candles to drive away wild elephants. They were also encouraged to take up plantation of lemon citrus as an alternative croping and to prevent entry of wild elephants into villages. The EOL team had a meeting with Girindra Adhikari,DFO,Dhansiri Forest Division Udalguri at Paneri Forest IB at 10 am. The DFO formally launched the chilly sticks prepared by EOL to prevent entry of wild elephants in the villages during night time. A colourful poster on the need for creating habitat for wild elephants and tips to avoid confrontation with wild elephants was also released on the occasion.
It needs mention that 22 people and 8 wild elephants had been killed during 2014 in Udalguri district which was considered as the highest HEC casuality in anywhere in Asia. A few nature loving people of India,USA and Bhutan had formed “Elephants on the Line” in July in 2014. The first meeting was held at Udalguri on July 24 which was sponsored by two consecutive DC s of the district namely-Thaneswar Malakar (now DC,Kokrajhar) and Sadhana Hojai. ABSU and AASAA of Udalguri district offered full cooperation and support for launching the program. Wildlife Educator Lisa Mills of North Carolina State University and wildlife biologist Dr.Ellen Cheng of USA;Mamatha Satyanarayana of Mysore; Sonam Wangdi, Jigme Dorji, Sangay Dorji,Tenjin Wanchuk all Chief Forest Officers of five Bhutan district attended the meeting where EOL was formally launched. Activities were arranged with a very small financial support from USFWS and NCSU,USA. In October in 2014, Heidi Riddle of Asian Elephants Foundation, lady working worlwide for the mitigation of human elephant conflict joined EOL at a meeting held at Royal Manas National Park in Bhutan.She along with Lisa Mills,Dr.Ellen Cheng,Mamatha Satyanaraya also visited Udalguri doing practical training to members of HEC villages.
Subsequently six sectors had been identified for formation of sector committees. Various sophisticated electronic gadgets like GPS,digital camera,binocular,high powere solar torch lights, laptops etc were given to sector members after giving proper training. People have expressed their trust in EOL members for which forest department has been taking EOL support at any time in need.