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Dhaka Tribune

Habitat destruction: 13 Asian elephants die unusually in 2 years in Cox's Bazar

Among 268 endangered Asian elephants two-thirds live in Cox's Bazar and Chittagong Hill Tracts

Update : 25 Nov 2020, 02:24 PM

Thirteen Asian wild elephants have died in the last two years -- three in November alone -- in Cox's Bazar district.

Unplanned multi-faceted development in Cox's Bazar and destruction of elephant sanctuaries is causing the unusual deaths of wild elephants.

Environmentalists say three wild elephants have been killed in electric shocks and shootings at Ramu and Chakaria in Cox's Bazar since November 8.

In order to provide shelters for Rohingyas, Elephant habitats are being cleared and destroyed, causing the disruption in corridors for regular movement, and food shortages.

This is creating tensions between the wild elephants and the people as they are attacking the locals. As a result these wild elephants are being killed by electric shocks and gunshots to protect the crops.

Among them, some people have brutally killed elephants by using bullets and electric wires to stop them. On November 6, a baby elephant was shot dead in the Khutakhali forest in Chakriya. 10 days later, a 30-year-old female elephant was shot dead in the Jowarianala forest of Ramu on November 16. The next day on 17 November, another elephant was killed by electric shock and shot at Mithakhali, south of Ramu. 

Expressing deep concern over the deaths of one Asian elephant after another in Cox's Bazar, the leaders of the environmental voluntary organization said that the government should take effective steps to protect these endangered Asian elephants by creating safe havens, overcoming the food crisis, keeping the elephant corridor safe and uninterrupted, bringing those involved in elephant poaching under the law, raising awareness among the people, preventing forest encroachment and creating forests. Otherwise wild elephants will become extinct day by day due to human cruelty.

Also Read- Environment minister: Tough actions against people involved in elephant killings

Among the 268 endangered Asian elephants, two-thirds live in Cox's bazar and Chittagong Hill Tracts. However, in Cox's Bazar and surrounding forests, the safe habitat of these elephants have been destroyed due to various reasons including railways, Rohingya settlements, various projects, illegal encroachment, lack of adequate food and movement of corridors has been severely hampered. As a result, these elephants are attacking the locality.

Cox's Bazar Forest and Environment Conservation Council President Deepak Sharma Dipu said, "Unplanned development projects are underway in Cox's Bazar. Wild elephant habitats have been destroyed, especially by the railways and the Rohingya. People have also settled in the deep forests with illegal occupation. As a result of this extreme food crisis, elephants are attacking human crops locally and Asian elephants are dying due to human cruelty.”

Rashedul Majid, chief executive of the environmental group Environment People, said, "Wild elephants have been shot dead one after another  in Cox's Bazar in recent times. This situation is being created due to the conflict between elephants and humans. The wild elephants in the Cox's Bazar area are trapped in a certain area. As many as 22 elephant corridors have been closed so far due to unplanned railway lines and Rohingya settlements.”

Md. Nazmul Huda, deputy director, Department of Environment in Cox's Bazar, said, "The killing of wild animals, including elephants, in different areas of Cox's Bazar has become widespread. All these elephant and wildlife habitats are being destroyed due to various human-caused reasons, including the cutting down of mountains. As a result, they have a food crisis. The Department of Environment is working relentlessly to protect wildlife sanctuaries or sanctuaries, including the prevention of deforestation.”

When contacted more than once, no statement was received from the forest officials of Cox's Bazar South and North Division. 

However, an official of the Cox's Bazar Forest Department, who did not want to be named, said three wild elephants have been shot dead this month. The autopsy report showed that each elephant had been shot 4 to 6 times. There are also signs of electric shock. As a result, Asian elephants are in danger of extinction due to the cruelty activities of human beings.

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