From Conflict to Coexistence with Elephants in the
North Odisha Landscape
The districts of Keonjhar and Sundargarh are located in the northwestern part of Odisha on the border with Jharkhand state. The forests are dominated by Sal trees. A population of about 1800 elephants are resident in Odisha state. These elephants have been historically migrating between the states of Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh, and West Bengal. Local communities of Santhila, Munda and Bhuniga live in the area.
In recent years there has been an increase in the conflict between humans and elephants in this region. Primarily, the tribal in these areas grow rice and maize. These crops are very tempting to elephants, and there is substantial crop damage every year when the elephants feed on the crops. Due to this situation farmers have a hard time cultivating the crops, and many of them have stopped farming altogether. Often these elephants enter the villages in search of food. They damage houses and feed on the stored grain, which leads to property destruction, and, occasionally, loss of human lives.
In 2022, JSW Foundation invited WRCS to start a Human-Elephant Conflict Mitigation Project. We decided to initiate a Community based Conflict Management (CBCM) approach in this region. Through this project, simple, low-cost methods of safeguarding the crops will be implemented. Similarly house and property damage will be prevented by giving early alert of elephant presence, so that elephants can be prevented from entering villages. Grain boxes are being installed in the houses to protect and store the harvested grains. Solar fences are being established around the farmland and orchards to protect them from elephant raids.
The local people are being trained in CBCM techniques by WRCS’s field team. The project concept is being communicated to the community through an outreach program consisting of regular meetings with the community, posters and sign boards. Do visit this page for further updates.