24 August 2018

Apeejay Tea and WWF India today announced the outcomes of their successful partnership to prevent and manage Human-Elephant Conflict (HEC) at select areas in Assam. The three- year partnership, from 2015-2018, between Apeejay Tea and WWF-India was a first of its kind with a tea company to support HEC management measures in Assam’s Sonitpur district, particularly in the tea plantations.

The result of this partnership has long term significance for both WWF-India and for Apeejay Tea, both important stakeholders in human-elephant conflict management in the state. As part of the partnership, WWF-India worked closely with the Apeejay Tea Management and the local residents to manage HEC in the Apeejay Group Tea Estates of Borjuli, Ghoirallie, Dhulapadung and Sessa in Sonitpur. Low cost solar power fences installed across the tea estates have been effective in reducing HEC related loss to human life and property, a mitigation measure that has already been adopted by many government and non-government agencies in the state. A scalable bio fence, using thorny bamboo was also introduced to prevent the entry of wild elephants into vulnerable areas of the tea gardens. Regular village level meetings and interaction, Anti Depredation Squad orientations and street plays were important components to create awareness on elephants and HEC management.

Announcing the outcomes, Dr. Dipankar Ghose, Director, Species and Landscapes, WWF-India said, “WWF-India’s 3-year partnership with Apeejay Tea has yielded positive impacts for managing human-elephant conflict in Sonitpur district.Through intensive conflict management strategy in the conflict prone plantations, a range of initiatives have been implemented which were found to be successful in reducing losses related to human-elephant conflict.” 

Going forward, a broad human-elephant conflict management protocol and strategy across all tea gardens in the vulnerable districts of the state will be put into place. Ms. Renu Kakkar, Director CSR, Apeejay Surrendra Group said, “Apeejay Tea will be setting up a Platform of Collaboration between other tea companies and WWF. Our Chairman, Mr. Karan Paul will call for a conference of owners of tea companies to enable WWF to collaborate with them as closely and as successfully as it has with Apeejay Tea in the last three years. Based on our learnings from the project, we believe that a multi-party collaboration will aid WWF to implement large scale interventions across all tea gardens in the landscape and develop a broad human-elephant conflict management protocol followed by all.”

A collaborative approach to manage conflict related to elephants across Assam’s tea gardens could help protect Asia’s largest terrestrial species, and reduce loss of property and prevent human and elephant deaths. “We believe that we will be able to scale up these initiatives to other plantations with the support of the local community, Assam Forest Department, elected public representatives, and civil administration,” added Dr. Ghose.

A positive change in attitude of residents of Apeejay Tea estates towards elephants has been noted by the Assam Forest Department officials. Apeejay Tea and WWF-India have documented the successful strategies in Apeejay Tea Estates into a 15- minute educational film ‘Hamara Ghar’ which can be used  to address human-elephant conflict by other tea gardens.

The key project outcomes from the three-year partnership:

Reduction in loss to property and number of human & elephant deaths

  • Financial losses in Apeejay Tea Estates as a result of HEC have reduced by 74 % in the last three years.
  • Reduction in number of human & elephant deaths due to human-elephant conflict in Sonitpur: 3 elephants and 11 human beings in 2017 as compared to 8 elephant deaths and 16 human deaths in 2013.
  • Crop damage by elephants in the Nagaon division down to 120 acres in 2017 as compared to more than 442 acres in 201, due to installation of solar fences.

Solar powered fences and bio-fences to help check HEC

  • Conflict has reduced by 90%, after the installation of 136 km of low cost solar fences in North Bank Landscape in partnerships with communities, Assam Forest Department, local MLAs and other stakeholders. Of this, 15.5 km is in Apeejay Tea Estates and 17 people have been trained for their maintenance. About 2,00,000 people are benefiting from these fences installed around sensitive establishments like schools, public health centres and residential areas.
  • 12.5 km of fence of thorny bamboo has been planted and is maintained by Apeejay Tea.
  • Solar street lights have been installed in 28 vulnerable locations inside Apeejay Tea Estates
  • Seven Early Warning Systems have been installed -six units of Passive Infra-Red systems in Apeejay Tea’s Dhulapadung and Sessa estates and one Active Infra-Red system in Sessa TE.
  • On 111 occasions, wild elephants have been successfully driven back to the nearby forests with the help of trained captive elephants or kunkis in the first year of the project.
  • Two nurseries of the Thorny Bamboo saplings have been developed and maintained in Apeejay Tea Estates holding nearly 10,000 saplings. .

Training and Orientation programmes for ADS members

  • 14 orientation meetings on HEC management measures have been conducted in 3 years of the project.
  • Field training on HEC management has been provided to more than 1,000 frontline staff and members of anti-depredation squads (ADS) in Sonitpur, Lakhimpur, Dhemaji and Nagaon districts, at the fringe of Kaziranga National Park.
  • 70 Anti-Depredation Squads formed and more than 1600 members trained in Sonitpur of which 20 ADS and over 300 members were trained in Apeejay Tea’s estates.

Awareness and outreach activities

  • 47 street plays, 20 film screenings and 1000 posters have been used in the HECM communication campaign.
  • Over 8000 people living in Apeejay Tea estate areas and neighboring villages have been made aware to manage human elephant conflict.

For Media Queries, please contact-
Renu Kakkar, Apeejay Tea
Email: rkakkar@apeejaygroup.com
M: +91 99809 46435

Rituparna Sengupta, WWF-India
M: +91-9810514487

Indira Akoijam, WWF-India
Email: iakoijam@wwfindia.net
M: +91 9711692252

About Apeejay Tea
Apeejay Tea, an Apeejay Surrendra Enterprise, is amongst India’s oldest and 3rd largest tea producer. It has 17 tea estates in the prime tea growing areas of Tinsukia, Sivasagar and Sonitpur District of Assam spread over 50,000 acres. The Estates are ISO 9001: 2008 certified and are under Ethical Tea Partnership. Two premium estates Khobong & Budlabeta are HACCP Certified and nine of the estates are Rainforest Alliance Certified and all the estates follow the Sustainable Agricultural Network standards. Apeejay Tea acquired Typhoo, UK’s third largest and an over 100-year-old iconic British tea brand, in 2005 which is today retailing in nearly 50 countries globally including India. To know more, you could visit us at www.apeejaytea.com

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