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8 Die in Four Weeks

Elephants face extinction for destruction of corridors

Habitant loss leads to conflict with humans, death of the giant animal

  • ANM Mohibub Uz Zaman
  • 3 December, 2021 12:00 AM
  • Print news
Elephants face extinction for destruction of corridors

The indiscriminate killing of elephants, destruction of their corridors and hills, and grabbing of forest land have put the giant animal on the brink of extinction in Bangladesh.

The loss of habitants results in elephant-human conflict. When elephants and humans interact, there is conflict from crop raiding, injuries and deaths to humans caused by elephants, and elephants being killed by humans.

The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) marks the species in its red list.

The elephant is a critically endangered species in Bangladesh, said IUCN while releasing a survey

on elephants in 2016.

There are 268 elephants in the country, according to the survey.

However, eight elephants have died in Banshkhali and Satkania of Chattogram, Sreebardi and Jhenaigati of Sherpur and Chakaria of Cox's Bazar from

November 6 to December 2.

Four out of the eight elephants died due to electrocution and one was shot to death. With this, 33 elephants died, including 20 from electrocution, in the last one year.

Local experts say elephants are facing extinction due to indiscriminate grabbing of forest land and destruction of hills and corridors of elephants.

Elephants in Cox’s Bazar, Sherpur, Jamalpur and Moulvibazar districts and Chattogram hill tracts have seriously been facing man-made disturbance as the regional and trans-boundary movement  of elephants is being hampered, said experts.

While talking to reporters, Raquibul Amin, country director of the IUCN, has described the deaths of seven elephants in just two weeks as alarming. “People’s cruel tendency towards elephants to save their crops at any cost is the main cause for the deaths,” he said, adding that the destruction of forest, hills and elephant corridors are responsible for this.

A multi-stakeholder participation is needed to protect the elephant corridors as well as the mammoth animal, he said.

The expert said a lack of knowledge about the behaviour of elephants and over-enthusiasm of the locals sometimes hinder the movement of elephants, which frightens them, leading to animosity towards croplands, houses and people.

On the other hand, electric traps are set in some areas to prevent elephants from destroying croplands. Elephants are also dying walking to the traps.

Elephant corridors are strips of land that the large animals use to move from one habitat patch to another. There are 12 elephant corridors in the country as identified by IUCN in 2016.

The corridors are Ukhia-Ghumdhum, Tulabagan-Panerchhara, Naikhongchhari-Rajarkul, Bhomariaghona-Rajghat, Tulatali-Idgar, Khuntakhali-Medhakassapia, Fashiakhali-Chairakhali, Fasiakhali-Manikpur, Chunti-Satghar, Lalutia-Barduara, Sukhbilash-Kodala and Narischa-Kodala.

Due to unplanned settlements and establishments, three major corridors for elephant migration in Cox’s Bazaar have been destroyed.

One-fourth of the country’s elephants are living in Teknaf and Ukhiya upazilas of Cox’s Bazar. And, following the arrival of Rohingya refugees in 2017 and subsequent human settlements in Cox’s Bazar, the major elephant corridors have been destroyed.

Mollah Rezaul Karim, conservator of forests at Wildlife and Nature Conservation Circle at the Forest Department, said, “People’s intolerant behaviour against wild animals is responsible for the deaths of elephants.”

“People destroy habitants of elephants and cultivate crops or construct houses on those or near the forest. Elephant always follow their routes and come to the area that was grabbed by people,” he said, adding that then people attack them to save their crops or houses.

So far 43 elephants have died from January 2019 to November 13 last. Of them, 16 died in Chattogram and the rest in Bandarban and Cox’s Bazar, according to wildlife management & nature conservation division of the Forest Department.

Among the elephants, 19 died of illness, five for aging-related complications, and others died for manmade causes. Besides, some elephants died after drowning and falling from hill. 

A total of 90 elephants have died in Bangladesh between 2001 and 2017 and around 28 elephants were brutally killed in just 20 months from January 2020 to August 2021.

Among 268 endangered Asian elephants in Bangladesh, two-thirds live in Cox's Bazar and the Chattogram hill tracts bordering India and Myanmar, according to data from IUCN and the government.