As Asiatic elephants are here to stay, Madhya Pradesh learns to co-exist
Iram Siddique, Indian Express
November 23, 2022
To peacefully coexist with its new guests (wild Asiatic elephants), Madhya
Pradesh is gearing up to launch a bunch of measures ranging from a mobile
app for speedy disposal of damages to launching an elephant manual putting
in place the roles and duties of various departments and ensuring minimum
These measures were decided after a two-day workshop was held in August
with wildlife officials and experts from Karnataka, West Bengal,
Chhattisgarh and Odisha. It was also decided to set up electrical fencing,
preferably tentacle solar-powered fencing, to reduce crop raids, promote
bee farming in villagers and dig up elephant-proof trenches to restrict
wild tuskers from attacking houses in search of grains and mahua.
Learning from Karnataka, MP is in final stages of finalising a mobile app
that will ensure compensation filed for damages to crops, cattle and human
life is disposed of in less than a month. A senior official from forest
department said in case of man-elephant conflict resulting in any kind of
damage, the forest beat guard will enter details for compensation and
within a week, if it is not addressed, the file will keep moving to top
post official of the division, which is the Divisional Forest Official
“At present, there is no way to ascertain what kind of compensation or how
many compensation claims have been filed and at what level are they stuck
unless that information is specifically called from a specific division.
But this app will enable a user to review it any time,” said a forest
official, requesting anonymity.
A similar app being used in Karnataka is called e-Parihara. The MP
government has called for suggestions from experts to name their app.
Forest officials pointed out that delay in compensation often results in
villagers getting agitated, which also leads to an attempt to harm the
animal or the forest. Several forest fires reported in MP were attributed
to villagers after their properties were damaged by animals and no
In its report, an elephant task force constituted in 2021 had pointed out
that migration of wild elephants into MP is part of ongoing dispersal and
large-scale movement of elephants in the east-central region in India,
which visibly began in 1980s with elephants from Jharkhand moving into West
Bengal and Sarguja district of erstwhile MP. Since then, wild tuskers have
continued to move from Jharkhand and Odisha into Chhattisgarh and onwards
into MP. In MP, 17 people died between 2018 and 2022 and the highest of six
deaths took place in 2021, followed by five in 2022.
After Chhattisgarh was carved out of MP in 2000, wild elephants began
coming to MP’s Sidhi, Singrauli and Shahdol districts, wherein they would
stay for 2-3 months and then return to Chhattisgarh. But this changed in
2017 when a herd of seven elephants did not leave MP and continued to stay
in Sanjay Dubri Tiger Reserve of Sidhi. In 2018, another herd of 40
elephants entered MP and began residing in Bandhavgarh Tiger Reserve in
Umaria. This herd has now increased to nearly 50 elephants, pointed out a
In the same year, two human casualties were reported in Sidhi and
Singrauli, along with damage to crops and property, making it the first
such incident of man-elephant conflict.
The elephant manual formulated by MP forest department codifying the
Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) is pending for administrative approval,
while the app is expected to be launched at the end of this year.
Meanwhile, forest officials have launched awareness drives to make
villagers aware of how to react when attacked by an elephant and ensure
minimum damage during a man-elephant conflict. These drives are being held
in eight districts of Shahdol, Umaria, Sidhi, Singrauli, Annupur, Balaghat,
Dindori and Mandal.
As per the population estimates of elephants in India, there were seven
elephants in MP in 2007, but this figure, according to Chief Wildlife
Warden JS Chauhan has increased to 60 at present. Besides, there are
several elephant herds that come to MP and stay put for a few months taking
that figure to over 100.