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Plan launched to check human-elephant conflict in Rohingya settlement

There have been at least 10 deaths resulting from human-elephant incidents in the main Kutupalong-Balukhali refugee settlement, including one casualty in the past week involving a 12-year-old boy

UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, has teamed up with the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) in Bangladesh to reduce incidents involving elephants coming into conflict with refugees in one of the world’s largest refugee settlements.

Since the Rohingya refugee influx into Bangladesh started over six months ago, there have been at least 10 deaths resulting from human-elephant incidents in the main Kutupalong-Balukhali refugee settlement, including one casualty in the past week involving a 12-year-old boy.

The highly congested refugee site, which houses around 560,000 refugees who fled Myanmar, used to be forest land but is now crowded with tens of thousands of refugee shelters and services.

The site lies along one of Asian elephants’ main migratory routes between Myanmar and Bangladesh. Asian elephants are a critically endangered species in Bangladesh, thought to number just 268.

“Behaviourally, elephants always follow their traditional routes and corridors for regular movement. If they find any obstacles within it, they try to break it,” said IUCN in the survey report carried out to assess the scale of the problem.

The survey, which covered a hilly area of 70 sq km, revealed frequent elephant movement around the refugee settlement area, with the highest concentration of movements along the west boundary.

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