Forest and Environment Minister James Sangma flagged off three new wildlife rescue vehicles, which were procured under the central government-sponsored Project Elephant.
One vehicle will be used in Balpakram National Park in South Garo Hills, while the other two will be utilized in West Garo Hills and East Khasi Hills, Principal Conservator of Forests, BK Lyngwa, said, adding that they are the first set of properly equipped rescue vehicles.
The cost of the vehicles totaled Rs 41 lakh, Chief Wildlife Warden Harish Chaudhary informed. The short term target of the department is to have 15 such vehicles so that these can be deployed in all vulnerable areas that are prone to witnessing man-animal conflict. There were 3,131 such conflicts in Meghalaya in the past four years, Chaudhary said, some of which have resulted in loss of property and human lives.
In this financial year around 100 animals have been rescued, but Chaudhary cautioned that there are necessary rescues as well as unnecessary ones.
“Animals must be rescued under three circumstances – the animal is diseased or injured, the animal has been orphaned and, thirdly, an animal that is harmful and has strayed out of its territory can be captured and released [by officials] and this can be termed as rescue,” he said.