Since the beginning of mankind, animals have had to make way for people. We come in, build, take over, and run them off their land. But for the first time in known history, people are moving for animals.
In Assam India, an entire village is relocating to make room for the Asian Elephants. The Ran Terang village is situated in the direct corridor connecting the Nambor-Doigrung Wildlife sanctuary to the Kaziranga National Park. This “highway” is the lifeline for approximately 2,000 threatened pachyderms. By moving the village, there will be no human interference allowing the elephants to move freely, as well as making way for other threatened species such as the tigers.
Convincing the village to move has not been easy, but the people will also benefit. In addition to not worrying about the elephants destroying their paddy crops now, the 19 families are being set up with water and electricity in their new homes. The new area will be turned into a model ethnic Karbi village, with the potential to be turned into a tourist destination.
“The Karbi people will create history in the field of environmental conservation by this unique gesture. We have to learn to live with the animals and I’m proud that the Karbis are showing the way to the world,” says Recho Harsing Ronghang, the 40th king of the Karbi Anglong.
The constant demand for land to set up rubber and tea plantations has resulted in deforestation, and in turn habitat fragmentation in the area. This coupled with growing human population is hurting the threatened species in the area.
Considering that one-fifth of the Asian elephant population resides here in Assam, this is a crucial move.
The Wildlife Trust of India is behind the move. WTI’s Dilip Deori said “the village was totally supportive in the project and are helping us in every way possible.” There are eight other corridors in Assam that could benefit from relocation as well, a huge undertaking, yet as the Karbi people have shown, completely possible.