Agartala: Tripura government will set up two elephant reserves for preservation of the species whose numbers have vastly depleted due to large-scale poaching and migration to neighbouring Bangladesh.
State Forest Minister Jitendra Chowdhury today said the two reserves would be part of elephant conservation projects and land for one at Gandhari in Amarpur sub-division of Gomati district has already been already identified.
Work is on to finalise the spot for the other reserve at Atharomura range of Dhalai district, he said.
"It is a matter of delight that local people assured us of giving land for the purpose and we have assured them that they would be rehabilitated properly," Chowdhury said.
Though the latest census by the State Board for Wildlife said the population of elephants in the state has increased to 59 from 38 in 2002, just about 40 years ago the animals were often seen even on the streets of the capital town.
According to British surveyor John Hunter`s report, there was a time during the British rule when elephants outnumbered humans in the state and it was the reason why the colonisers did not consider taking administrative control.
However, their numbers began to go down with the cutting down of forests for construction of a hydel power project on Gomati river. With the loss of their habitat, the elephants started migrating from Gomati reserve forest area to the Chittagong Hill Tracts of Bangladesh where forests were abundant.
Forest officials said due to the ever-dwindling forests and loss of habitat, the elephants have now taken to invading human habitation often killing people, damaging crops and razing houses.
Many pachyderms on the other hand were massacred by poachers, they added.