Assam & Meghalaya Forest Departments Collaborate On ‘World Elephant Day’ In North Garo Hills

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Posted in Assam, Featured, Meghalaya, Northeast
NET Web Desk

Guwahati, August 12, 2023: In a landmark move aimed at fostering sustained inter-state coordination to mitigate the Human-Elephant Conflict (HEC) and promote harmonious coexistence, the forest departments of Assam and Meghalaya jointly celebrated World Elephant Day for the first time.

The commemoration, held on Friday, unfolded under the theme “Safeguarding Elephant Habitats for a Sustainable Tomorrow.” This collaborative event, organized in partnership with Aaranyak, the British Asian Trust, and with support from the Darwin Initiative, brought together key stakeholders and over 300 participants, including 180 village women, from both states.

Distinguished dignitaries from Assam and Meghalaya graced the occasion, underscoring the significance of this collective effort. Notable attendees included Khanindra Choudhury, District Commissioner of Goalpara (Assam); Rakesh Reddy, Superintendent of Police, Goalpara; S N Sangma, Conservator of Forest (Territorial, Wildlife, and Social Forestry), Garo Hills Region; RK Marak, Divisional Forest Officer (DFO) E&W Garo Hills Wildlife, Tura; Tejas Mari Swamy, DFO, Goalpara; Satish K S, DFO (Territorial), E & N Garo Hills; and Jude Rangku T Sangma, Additional Deputy Commissioner, North Garo Hills, Meghalaya.

Khanindra Choudhury, addressing the assembly as the chief guest, hailed the joint observance of World Elephant Day by the two forest departments as a momentous step, marking the initiation of a collaborative venture to tackle HEC and facilitate coexistence. Choudhury stressed the importance of sensitizing communities to respect elephant corridors as a vital measure to mitigate HEC. He applauded the inclusion of students in the event, noting its potential to instill in them an understanding of the heritage animal’s significance in the ecosystem and the urgency of its conservation.

Tejas Mari Swamy, Goalpara DFO and brainchild behind the proposal for an inter-state Elephant Cup football match on this occasion, emphasized that coexistence represents the only viable solution to HEC. Swamy underscored the indispensable role of the villagers in both states, calling for sustained joint endeavors to achieve this objective.

Jude Rangku T Sangma, ADC, North Garo Hills, highlighted the imperative of transcending artificial geographical boundaries to achieve effective coordination among communities residing across state lines for the successful mitigation of HEC and the promotion of coexistence.

The event featured diverse performances, including spirited displays by students from the local Pedaldoba Secondary School and captivating dance routines by the Hajong and Rajbonshi community troupes. The Elephant Conservation Network (ECN) members from both Garo Hills and Goalpara regions were honored for their dedicated voluntary services in mitigating HEC and fostering coexistence.

The day commenced with a friendly football match between community members and forest officials from both states, won by the Assam team with a score of 4-2 goals. The event concluded with the distribution of essential mitigation tools such as rechargeable torch lights, along with trophies and cash prizes to the participating football teams.

Source: ANI

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