Administrators and wildlife managers emphasized elephant conservation as a major development agenda by implementing the Bangladesh Elephant Action Plan for awareness building on elephant conservation and for managing human-elephant conflicts.
In Bangladesh, the population of wild elephants has declined drastically in the last two centuries because of habitat fragmentation and destruction caused by the expansion of agriculture and human settlement. The status survey of 2004 showed that the number of wild elephant was not higher than 230. In 2000, IUCN declared the Asian Elephant as a critically endangered species in Bangladesh. Over the last decade some sporadic actions have been taken to conserve these majestic animals. Now it is the high time to think about elephant conservation in a more organized fashion and act accordingly.
On 10 January 2016, representatives from Bangladesh Forest Department and administrative officials of the Government of Bangladesh came together in a workshop in Chittagong to discuss elephant conservation in the wild. This is for the first time government administration and Forest Department joined hands to discuss the importance of elephant conservation through an event at the divisional level - the highest sub-national in Bangladesh. The event was facilitated by IUCN.
The participants opined to take long-term actions for elephant conservation and to minimize human-elephant conflicts. It was noted that Bangladesh Forest Department and IUCN Bangladesh have already taken an initiative to conserve elephant by developing Bangladesh Elephant Action Plan (2016-2025). The objective of this Action Plan is to give guidance to protecting critically endangered elephants of Bangladesh. The major elements of the Action Plan are research and monitoring for collecting baseline information, habitat improvement, human-elephant conflict minimization, capacity improvement of Forest Department & elephant response teams, and law enforcement for protection of elephant.
It is believed that a concerted effort from all concerned for implementing the Action Plan will pave the path to reduce human-elephant conflicts in Bangladesh.
Md. Khalilur Rahman, Divisional Commissioner (Acting), Chittagong; Md. Abdul Latif Mia, Conservator of Forests, Chittagong circle; Mesbah Uddin, Deputy Commissioner of Chittagong; A.K.M Hafiz Akhter, BPM, Police Super of Chittagong; and Ishtiaq Uddin Ahmad, Country Representative of IUCN Bangladesh spoke in the workshop as guests.
This regional workshop was a part of the ‘Status Survey and Development of Elephant Action Plan’ and ‘Human-Elephant Conflict’ project with a view to ensure the long-term conservation of Asian Elephants and their habitats. These projects is focused on identifying the present status of elephant population in wild, preparing maps to show the habitats, routes, corridors and frequent human-elephant conflict areas, preparing a long-term conservation Action Plan based on status identified for the conservation of Asian Elephants Bangladesh, and piloting of some identified actions selected in human-elephant conflict areas.