- Assam and Meghalaya have an estimated elephant population of 7,000.
- 2,80,000 ha of forest area have been cleared between 1996-2000.
- 18,000 ha across 10 national parks, sanctuaries encroached by humans.
- Elephants are forced by shrinking forest cover to stray into human settlements for food, often standing crop.
- In October, a 100-strong herd left a trail of destruction in Assam's Majuli island.
***As Diwali approaches, villagers in some parts of Assam and Meghalaya are buying crackers, but for a different reason altogether. They are intended to ward off marauding herds of wild Asiatic elephants descending on human settlements, breaking houses, killing people, and feasting on standing crops like paddy and sugarcane. Some pachyderms even wash down the food with the fermented rice beer that locals brew in abundance. The elephants can hardly be blamed for this problem of befitting proportions. With...