Elephant herds roaming in Cox’s Bazar forests
Published: 06:21 PM, 18 August 2021 Updated: 06:53 PM, 19 August 2021
Elephant herds have been spotted roaming the forests of Teknaf in Cox’s Bazar. Forest staff of the Wildlife Management and Nature Conservation have not seen such elephant herds in the last three years.
From Tuesday morning to afternoon, the elephant herd was seen roaming in the forest area under the range at Teknaf Sadar of Cox’s Bazar South Forest Division. The Forest Division estimates that “12 baby elephants have been born” in the last one and a half years.
Earlier in June, the Elephant Response Team and a joint team of the upazila administration, including the forest division, sent the two elephants – stranded at the rivers and seas bordering Teknaf – to the forest in a four-day effort.
It is learned that in the last three years, 8 elephants have died in different hilly areas of Cox’s Bazar. More than 60 elephants have been stranded in the hilly areas of Ukhiya and Teknaf in Cox’s Bazar.
According to locals, the elephants were stranded in the 10,000-acre deep forest in Ukhiya-Teknaf for the last four years as the areas fell under the control of 1.1 million Rohingya camps. Due to an increase in the movement of Rohingyas in the whole area, 23 “safe corridors” for elephants in Naikhongchari Bandarban along with Ukhiya-Teknaf have been blocked.
It is also learned that the villagers have become the victim of elephants’ attacks as the herd moved to the locality in search of food. In the last three years, elephant attacks have killed more than “22 people, including 13 Rohingya”, informed environmental experts.
Noting that elephant roaming in the forest is a very good aspect for us, Mohammad Humayun Kabir, officer-in-charge of Cox’s Bazar South Forest Division, said “780 acres have been afforested” with trees of native species in the last two years as the food sources for the wildlife, including elephants, to overcome the loss due to Rohingya habitats. “Elephants with new cubs can be seen in the forests of every range,” he also said.
Mohammad Humayun Kabir added that at least 12 elephants were born in the last one and a half years. “Preparations are underway for afforestation of more than 250 acres with our insufficient manpower. If it is completed, the number of different wild animals including elephants will increase day by day,” he hoped.
Syed Ashiq Ahmed, assistant range officer of Teknaf’s South Forest Division, said such elephant herds were not seen roaming the forests since the arrival of the Rohingya. “The number of elephants in the forest is increasing day by day mainly due to forest protection which is a very good aspect for us,” he said, adding that all should be vigilant so that no power cables be given inside the forest.