Raipur, Feb 25 (PTI) There has been no loss of human life in wild animal attacks at the Udanti Sitanadi Tiger Reserve in Chhattisgarh in the last one year as a result of measures undertaken to reduce man-animal conflict, an official claimed on Sunday.

During the same period, the anti-poaching team of the reserve arrested 120 poachers and encroachments on 650 hectares inside the reserve were removed, he said.

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More than 100 villages are located in the tiger reserve spread in Gariaband and Dhamtari districts and since February 23, 2023, no loss of human life has been reported in wild animal attacks, the reserve's deputy director Varun Jain told PTI.

The tiger reserve witnessed human fatalities in wild animal attacks, particularly by elephants, in a couple of years before that, he said.

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The last casualty in the elephant attack was reported on February 22, 2023 in the tiger reserve, he said.

In 2022-23, six people died in separate incidents of elephant and sloth bear attacks while in 2021-22, one human fatality was reported in elephant attack, the official said.

In 2020-21, one death was reported in sloth bear attack, he added.

In March last year, the use of an artificial intelligence (AI)-based application was also started on a pilot basis in the reserve to alert people about the movement of elephants in their vicinity and prevent incidents of human-elephant conflict, Jain said.

The app, named 'Chhattisgarh Elephant Tracking and Alert', was developed jointly by the Forest Management Information System (FMIS) and the state forest department's wildlife wing.

The app uses inputs provided by the 'Hathi Mitra Dal' (local volunteers) members who keep a tab on the movement of jumbos in forest areas to send alert calls and messages about their location, he said.

The credit for saving human lives goes to the 'Hathi Mitra Dal' trackers who put their lives at risk and closely monitor the movement of elephants, alert people about it and also feed the details of location on the app, he said.

Awareness programmes held in the villages affected by elephant attacks have also helped in making people aware about the human-animal conflict and conservation. In the last two years, no elephant death has been reported in the reserve, the official said.

The reserve's anti-poaching team, operational from 2020, has been upgraded by involving officials of other forest divisions and neighbouring states to carry out joint operations in tiger corridors and the state police's cyber cell has also been roped in, he said.

So far, 120 poachers have been arrested in the reserve and adjoining forest, the official said.

Also, encroachments on around 650 hectares in the reserve have been removed in the last one year which helped in the wildlife conservation as animals reclaimed their habitat. The move also helped local residents as animals do not venture near their villages, he said.

The control over poaching and encroachments also resulted in enhancing the number of herbivores like deer, barking deer, nilgai, sambar and Indian bison, which can be assessed by their pictures captured in trap cameras, Jain said.

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