Bangladesh and India are in the final stages of an agreement to allow wild elephants free passage through their shared border, in a move aimed at reducing fatal confrontations between the animals and humans.
Seven cross-border routes used by elephants have been identified in the Indian states of Assam, Tripura and Mizoram.
Bangladesh Forestry Department's Deputy Conservator MD Shahab Uddin said keeping these natural corridors open will lessen confrontation.
“Elephants will not harm anyone if they are left alone.”
According to the Forestry Department, at least 226 people and 62 elephants have been killed in such conflicts in the country in the last 13 years.
As recently as October 14, three people were killed in an attack by wild elephants in Jhenaigati border area in Sherpur district of Bangladesh.
Shahab said the Home Ministry had now given the go ahead to sit with Indian officials and thrash out the issue.
“We are waiting for the Foreign Ministry's clearance, which we expect soon,” he told the Dhaka Tribune. “Then, we will have the final meeting on how the agreement will be signed.”
On January 26, the New Indian Express reported that the Indian home ministry had agreed to sign an agreement with Bangladesh to open the borders to form a cross-border natural elephant corridor, after receiving the approval of the forestry department.
In Bangladesh, the forestry ministry then contacted the Home Ministry for collaboration with the law enforcement agencies, especially the Border Guard Bangladesh, regarding the corridor.
Human encroachment and habitat loss have pushed down the wild elephant population in Asia in the last two centuries.
Elephants are critically endangered in Bangladesh, where only an estimated 200 remain – down from more than 500 in the middle of the last century.