A Story of Coexistence
Chinmoy Swargiary with ecoNE Team
Is co-existence can be fruitful than conflicts? At a time, where human elephant conflicts are often in the headlines, a different picture can be seen in a village Chandapani. In the outskirts of Guwahati city and approx. 27 km away from the urban centre , the village Chandapani is situated in the Rani area.
The story is about Dhanbar Bodo, a farmer by profession, who strongly believes in co-existence than conflicts. Mr. Bodo has two and half acre of agricultural field, where he grows paddy seasonally.
He has his family with his mother, wife and two children. He is conscious and often worried about the needs of his family so as to provide quality education to his child. But what makes his life distinctive from others, is the way he is earning his livelihood by not following what everyone typically would do in his situation.
Currently there are 6000 Asian elephant in Assam which makes 10-15% of the global population of the species. Dhanbar Bodo's paddy field is at the forest fringe area and it is an elephant corridor. The result is, each season he has to go through a 20-30% crop loss as most of the times his paddy field get destroyed by elephants.
However, even though this man feels disappointed , he never thinks of harming the elephants. Rather he is following an alternative way. As he thinks the loss can be recovered, even if he doesn’t follow a violent way.When the country is facing a wide scale of human elephant conflict, that has resulted in deaths of 1,713 human and 373 elephants from 2015-2018, he is on a mission to set a different example.
Mr. Bodo thinks that the way a human being cannot survive without some basics needs, so does the animals. He says “with increase in human population, we can see that the basic needs, i.e food, clothes and shelter have become a matter of concern. So why we forget about animals that they have certain basic needs too. After all it is us the humans that keep on destroying their area”.
To ensure his own survival without getting indulged in harming the animals, he goes out every night to watch his cropland. He puts lights in the fields, safeguarding his land without harming the elephants. This is an extra work he does every night during the cropping season, just to ensure that crop depredation by elephants can be kept at minimum.
Thus Mr. Bodo sets an example of coexistence with elephants that includes causing no physical harm to the elephants and using harmless ways of keeping the elephants out of his crop field even at the cost of sustaining some loss to his income.
*This photo story was produced as part of a paid internship provided by Aaranyak with financial support from Internews' Earth Journalism Network.
About the Photographer:
Chinmoy Swargiary is a Post Graduate in Mass Communication, Journalism and Media Studies from Cotton University, Guwahati and an avid photographer. He is currently working as an Intern in Media Production & Communications Division of Aaranyak. His work in Aaranyak is supported by Internews' Earth Journalism Network Project.