ITA calls industry meet to mitigate human-elephant conflict in tea gardens



Concerned by the growing incidents of human elephants conflict in Assam, the Indian Tea Association has organized a meet at Kolkata to consider an industry-wide collaboration to address human-elephant conflict faced by the tea gardens of Assam and West Bengal.

The meet was initiated by Chairman of Apeejay Tea, Karan Paul. Paul, a member of ITA, has been implementing conflict mitigation strategies with WWF for the last three years to significant impact.

WWF presented a strategy to the ITA members and success stories of its three-year collaboration with Apeejay Tea during the meet, which saw participation of 15 top tea companies and senior management of WWF.

"Apeejay Tea was perhaps the first tea company to fund an intensive conflict management strategy in Sonitpur because four of our gardens were in the hot zone. As a donor as well as a victim of human elephant conflict, the successes of Apeejay Tea's partnership with WWF-India for the last three years have brought us valuable insights on solutions to human elephant conflict issue," said Paul.

"We have shared these with the Indian Tea Association and hope to see a multi-party collaboration that will lead to the development of a broad human-elephant conflict management protocol followed by all tea gardens uniformly," he said.

ITA Chairman, Vivek Goenka said that the ITA has studied the project outcomes of Apeejay Tea-WWF collaboration and is sensitive to the issue. "I believe that a multi-stakeholder collaboration including the government will aid implementation of large-scale interventions across the tea sector .Today was our first meeting involving tea companies," Goenka said.

Director, Species and Landscapes programme, WWF-India Dr. Dipankar Ghose said, "With the support of multiple stakeholders such as the Apeejay Tea, Assam Forest Department, elected public representatives, civil administration, and local communities, WWF-India has been utilizing multi-pronged approaches to address human-elephant conflict. We believe that we will be able to scale up these initiatives in Assam with the Indian Tea Association's participation."