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Reducing human-animal conflict

An initiative was taken by an Odlabari-based environmental outfit to prepare children from different walks of life to deftly deal with nature.

Swaati Chaudhury | New Delhi | Updated :

In this era of global warming, it is becoming highly essential for all of us to reconnect with nature. There is an Odlabari-based environmental outfit that begs to differ from other organisations in North Bengal; in the sense that it is involved in hosting annual adventure camps not only for school- and college-going students, but also for below poverty line masses.

Quite recently, the environmental set-up rolled out a one-day training camp for collegegoers at Gulma in Darjeeling Hills on 28 June. Shankar De, President, Odlabari Himalayan Ecology Conservation Foundation, said, “Since Gulma lies adjacent to Mahananda Wildlife Sanctuary, there are high chances of sighting wild species. There were at least 40 students from Siliguri College and there were sessions on shelter making, river crossing, rappelling and rock climbing. Students sighted faunal species like leopards, bison, deer, pythons and cobras. Besides this, the camp focused on bird watching, identifying snakes and treatment of snake bites.”

There are sporadic incidents of human-rhino conflict in the national parks of Dooars. The case of human elephant conflict is equally appalling.

The environmental group is also planning to organise awareness camps at Chapramari Wildlife Sanctuary and Jaldapara and Garumara national parks in July. “We intend to spread awareness on ways to reduce human-rhino conflict among locals. Most human-animal conflicts occur in tea gardens and owing to shortage of food, the wild fauna start straying in tea estates, and tea garden workers become easy targets for these wild fauna. There are at least 200 tea gardens from Odlabari to Birpara in Dooars,” De said.

There are plans on the horizon to host nature study camps for specially-abled children in October and November. Hosting an annual adventure camp at the end of the year has been one of the priorities of the organisation. The annual adventure camp is for students between the ages of 6 to 20 years.

The environmental wing has drawn up plans to venture into a mountain expedition in the Uttarakhand Himalayas. “We plan to embark upon the expedition for three weeks, sometime in July. The expedition will have 15 experienced trekkers from our group,” De said.