By Prateek Kumar
At a time when elephants are killed for their tusks across the world, a small town of Odisha in India is making an effort to help the jumbos survive the onslaught of extreme summers.
The forest officials of the rural town of Dhenkanal in Odisha have come up with a plan to build small water ponds for the elephants in the nearby forests. “About 22 big and 14 small ponds at the cost of Rs 90 lakhs, will be constructed by the government to provide proper water facilities for elephants in nearby forest regions,” officials said.
The money to be spent on digging ponds will be made available by the state wildlife authority from the funds of Compensatory Afforestation Management Programme Authority (CAMPA). Allotted cost for the construction of each pond is presumed to be between Rs 2 – 2.5 lakh.
Considering the temperature in the eastern part of the country shoots over 40 degrees Celsius, it is a great step towards taking care of the wild. It also helps in avoiding the man-animal conflict that results in the death of many elephants and humans.
Animals will reach out to the residential complexes for refuge, if proper measures for their conservation are missing from the spectrum of the officials. Therefore, to overcome these fatal scenarios, the government has decided to make water storage reservoirs in the form of ponds for drinking water, ” said J N Das, Assistant District Conservator of forests.
“On an average an elephant requires 250 kg of fodder and 200 liters of water to survive. However due to shrinking forests, food available to them has depleted, following which they intrude sugarcane and paddy farms for their requirement”, Das informed, and added, “Apart from 120 elephants from Dhenkanal, around 80 from neighboring districts of Keonjhar and Angul enter this area in search of food and water.”
The Kandhra reserve forest in Hindol forest range is a major habitat of pachyderms for which six ponds will be dug in the region. Work on 28 ponds has already begun and digging of eight more ponds will begin soon.
The instances of human–animal conflict in the districts have increased manifold in the recent years. Jumbos from the nearby forests often trespass into the human territory killing several and destroying crops worth crores of rupees. Out of the eight forest ranges in Odisha, seven are severely affected by the jumbo menace.
Pradipta Kumar Sahoo, Divisional Forest Officer, said “the rise in elephant population coupled with water scarcity has posed serious problems due to which the decision was taken to dig ponds.”