Villagers Block Chhattisgarh Highway To Protest Human-Elephant Conflict
Incensed by the loss of human life and the damage caused to crops and property
by wild elephants, an estimated 800 villagers blocked parts of the National Highway passing through Sithra and Khargaon on October 6, 2018.
Individuals from six villages in the Raigarh district of Chhattisgarh participated in this "Rasta Roko" agitation. According to Sanctuary's sources on the ground, a herd of about 50 elephants has been entering fields around the Chaal range of Raigarh.
With escalating deaths and damage, a sense of anger and abandonment is pervasive in the region. Self-styled efforts to chase elephants away from fields using electric fences, loud noises, and halogen lights have been in vain and created tension between members of the community and the Forest Department." Many villagers have not received the promised compensation for damage caused by elephants as they are illiterate and have been unable to produce the necessary papers to prove ownership over the damaged land. Roughly 1000 acres of crop have been destroyed this season, and the villagers are now demanding that Forest Department staff come and stay with them to understand their hardships and find solutions," said Sajal Madhu, activist and Sanctuary's Mud on Boots Project Leader from the district.
The four hour long protest finally ended when members of the Forest Department agreed to visit some of the impacted villages and help chase elephants away from their fields.
It is the opinion of the Sanctuary Nature Foundation that human-elephant conflict in Chhattisgarh is at a crisis point, and that it is incumbent upon the environment ministry and Project Elephant to take cognisance of the matter and develop appropriate interventions for human and elephant safety.