More than 70 people and 80 pachyderms on average die every year in human-elephant conflict in Assam, state Forest Minister Chandra Mohan Patowary said on Thursday.
The state government has paid about Rs 8-9 crore in compensation for damages caused by the pachyderms, he said in the assembly. Replying to a question by Congress legislator Rekibuddin Ahmed, Patowary said increasing human occupation of natural habitats of elephants has forced the animals to move out in search of food, which leads to conflict with man.
They also come into conflict with humans during their natural migration process, he said. “As a result, more than 70 people and 80 elephants are killed on an average annually, besides causing property damage,” the minister said.
The elephant population in the state currently is over 5,700, he said.
The minister said 1,330 elephants have died between 2001 and 2022, with the highest number of deaths reported in 2013 when 107 pachyderms died, followed by 97 in 2016 and 92 in 2014.
Among the various reasons for the deaths, 509 died of natural causes, 261 succumbed to unknown reasons, 202 were electrocuted, 102 died in train accidents, 65 due to poisoning, 40 were poached and 18 after being hit by lightning.
Sharing information on the river dolphin, which was declared the state water animal in 2008, Patowary said there were 537 river dolphins in the state in 2020, according to the latest available data.
Altogether 80 river dolphins have died between 2008 and 2023, with 60 killed after being trapped in fishing nets.
The minister also informed the House that the total forest land in the state is 26,836 sq km, or 34.21 per cent of the state’s total area, as per Forest Survey of India’s 2021 report.
A total of 14,373.913 hectares of encroached forest land has been cleared so far, he added.