Assam has launched the "Gajah Kotha" campaign to address the growing human-elephant conflict (HEC) issue by engaging more than 1,200 individuals and promoting coexistence.
This initiative specifically targets villages in eastern Assam affected by human-elephant conflict, aiming to educate residents about elephant behaviour, ecology, and the cultural significance of these magnificent creatures to the region.
Aaranyak, in collaboration with the British Asian Trust, the Assam Forest Department, and with support from the Darwin Initiative, is spearheading this effort as part of their commitment to fostering harmonious coexistence.
Alolika Sinha, a senior conservationist at Aaranyak's Elephant Research and Conservation Division, said, "In collaboration with scientists, artists, educators, and conservationists, we have developed informative and captivating awareness materials for exhibitions that are accessible to all members of the community, including women, men, youth, the elderly, and students."
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Aaranyak has successfully reached out to over 1,200 individuals affected by HEC in eastern Assam through 24 "Gajah Kotha" campaigns conducted thus far, according to a press statement from the organisation.
The campaigns were held in various locations, including Haladhibari, Jaborchuk Kathoni, Gazera, Gazera High School, Ujani Majuli Kherkatia High School, Pub Majuli Kherkatia High School, Jaborchuk Basa, and Jopanchuk in Majuli.
In Dibruagarh, the campaign covered Konwabam, Panchukia Bongaon, Nahorjan Lebankula, Nagaghat Tantipather, Lebankula ME School, and Kamargaon ME School. Tinsukia saw the campaign conducted at Ujani Sadiya High School and Padumphula. Other locations included Chamarajan, Charaguwa Grant, Majumelia, Charagua ME School, Charagua High School in Sivasagar, Demomukh Gohaingaon, Sankardev Janajati ME School, and Bejorchiga in Jorhat.
Aaranyak collaborated with various local organisations to engage community members and cultivate future stewards in each HEC-affected area.
These organisations and community members had the opportunity to interact with Aaranyak's experts, discussing innovative approaches to promoting coexistence between humans and wildlife.
Zakir Islam Bora, an Aaranyak official overseeing the initiative in eastern Assam, emphasised the dedication of their community educators, field staff, and village champions in working tirelessly towards fostering coexistence between communities and elephants in Assam.
Assam is home to a well-established elephant population, but it also faces escalating conflicts, making initiatives like "Gajah Kotha" crucial for sustainable cohabitation.