Recognizing his efforts to mitigate man-elephant conflict, wildlife activist Rajen Boro of Assam’s Udalguri district was on Thursday (July 20) selected for the first Bijoy Krishna Handique Award.
The award was announced last January to honour unsung heroes from different parts of the Northeast who have selflessly contributed in various wildlife conservation activities in the region. It is named after the seven-time Lok Sabha MP from Jorhat constituency and son of eminent Assamese philanthropist Krishna Kumar Handique. The award, instituted by a Guwahati-based NGO named Development Foundation of Assam (DFA), aims to provide recognition and monetary assistance to the winners.
Boro, a former militant of Bodo Liberation Tigers Force (1996 – 2003) who surrendered in 1999, was selected by a seven-member panel of experts as the most suited to receive the first edition of the award.
“The panel constituted of wildlife experts, senior journalists and people from other fields of work. Rajen Boro was selected unanimously for his works in the field since last 17 years. Without any fund or help, he had carried out his works to protect both human and elephants in the Assam-Bhutan border,” Geetartha Darshan Baruah, president of DFA told The News Mill.
Boro had actively worked to stop the conflicts in the Bhutiachang area, about 107 kms from Guwahati adjacent the Bhutan border in Udalguri district, where according to the environmental ministry survey has highest concentration of deaths with 40 people and 89 elephants dead in such incidents last year.
Assam has the second highest deaths in man-elephant conflicts with 473 deaths so far, while West Bengal tops the list with 585 deaths.
“He started using several innovative steps such as using rope fences painted with Bhoot Jolokia, the hottest chilly in the world certified by the Guinness Book of World Records, to ward off the elephants from human habitations. He had also started mitigating human-elephant conflict through community mobilisation, collaboration with local youth, administration and research institutions in various parts of the district,” Baruah said.
The award, that carries a trophy, citation and Rs one lakh, will be conferred at a ceremony at ITA Machkhowa, Guwahati on July 30.