Bhubaneswar, Oct 21 (LocalWire): There is nothing spectacular in germination of seeds into saplings in dense forests but ‘germination’ of bamboo has brought cheers to the forest-side residents of Athgarh forest division in Cuttack district – one of the epicenters of man-elephant confrontation in the state.
As bamboo shoots are the most-favoured food of jumbos, the germination has raised hopes of curbing elephants from raiding human habitations in search of food.
The officials of the forest department and people bearing the brunt of elephant depredation nurture hope that growing bamboo will be a game-changer in confining elephants to forest limits.
‘Man-elephant conflict continues to pose trouble for Athgarh forest division area from time to time.
Various initiatives like digging trenches to solar fencing of elephant depredation areas have been undertaken but it yielded limited results. We are hopeful that bamboo cover in the forest will check the conflict to a great extent,’ said Sasmita Lenka, divisional forest officer of Athagarh forest division.
‘Bamboo shoots are relished by elephants. We are highly optimistic that it will meet the food requirement of wild elephants in their habitat and they will not stray out of the forest in search of food,’ she said.
‘Dendro calamus’ bamboo or the Salia bamboo seed balls were prepared by community involvement and were dropped to restock salia bamboo to enrich elephant habitats in the 38 reserve forests of Athgarh forest division.
‘The experiment to increase bamboo cover was taken up in June-July.
The seeds have germinated and the saplings have grown up in four months. We expect the plants to fully grow in six to seven months time and provide shoots to elephants,’ she said.
Prior to the implementation of bamboo experiment to arrest man-elephant confrontation, a massive awareness campaign had been set in motion in all the villages hit by elephant depredation, for restoration of natural habitat of elephants.
950 kg bamboo seeds were thrown in the open patches inside the dense forests. Elephants love chewing bamboo shoots. Once the shoots come out of the plants, the animals’ interference into villages will definitely come down, she added.
The forest division is one of the worst-hit areas due to straying of elephants into villages.
The animals raid villages at will to eat standing crops, causing damage to fruit-bearing trees and vegetable plants besides damaging human settlements. Humans also get killed as there are several instances of marauding elephants crushing them to death.