Bhubaneswar, Jan 22: Amidst the rising cases of human-elephant conflict in Odisha, the state government has requested the Tamil Nadu forest department to supply four Kumki elephants who are specially trained to chase away wild jumbos straying into human habitats.
Additional Chief Secretary of the Environment, Climate Change & Forests Department Satyabrata Sahu wrote to his counterpart in Tamil Nadu, Supriya Sahu in this regard on January 20. Sahu in his letter said that the state has been facing significant challenges in controlling the increasing cases of human-elephant conflict. “Your help in getting trained Kumki elephants would greatly assist us in addressing these conflicts effectively and humanely. Kumki elephants can be deployed strategically to help us to manage and drive wild elephants thereby reducing damage to crops, human habitations and the potential loss of both human and elephant lives. These elephants can also be deployed for forest patrolling and rescue operations,” Sahu said in the letter.
Sahu also pointed towards the successful utilization of Kumki elephants for wildlife conservation by the Tamil Nadu forest department. He said that the deployment of Kumki elephants will help in safeguarding the valuable lives of humans and the wild animals in the state. “Understanding that Tamil Nadu has a successful and commendable program in place, whereby Kumki elephants are trained and utilized for wildlife conservation purposes, I would request you to provide us with four Kumki elephants for deployment in conflict prone areas of Odisha,” Sahu added.
He also requested Tamil Nadu to depute mahouts to take care of the Kumki elephants and guide and train the local mahouts here. “It is also requested that the mahouts taking care of those Kumki elephants may also be deputed along with the elephants, for only initial hand-holding support to our local mahouts to get them acquainted with those Kumki elephants,” Sahu noted.
Odisha recorded 117 casualties in 2019-20, 139 in 2020-21 and 112 in (2021-22) due to human-elephant conflict. Similarly, as many as 57 persons died in jumbo attacks between April and June last year.