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Elephant Conservation In India

Elephant Conservation In India

Why in news?

  • According to the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEFCC), a total of 186 elephants were killed after being hit by trains across India between 2009-10 and 2020-21.

Data Analysis

  • Assam accounted for the highest number of elephant casualties on railway tracks (62), followed by West Bengal (57), and Odisha (27).
  • Uttar Pradesh saw a single death.

Concerns

  • Human-elephant conflict.
  • Escalation of poaching.
  • Habitat loss.
  • Abuse due to elephant tourism.
  • Mistreatment in captivity.

Initiatives For Conservation Of Elephants

  • A Permanent Coordination Committee has been constituted between the Ministry of Railways and the MoEFCC for preventing elephant deaths in train accidents.
  • Clearing vegetation along railway tracks to enable clear view for loco pilots, construction of underpass/overpass for safe passage of elephants, regular patrolling of vulnerable stretches of railway tracks, warning sign boards, etc.
  • The MoEFCC has released Rs. 212.49 crore to elephant range States under the Project Elephant between 2011-12 and 2020-21.                          Elephant Conservation In India

Significance Of Elephants

  • Elephant was declared a ‘national heritage animal’ in 2010, considering the valuable ecological services rendered by the species.
  • Elephants are architects of the forest and woodland ecosystem (keystone species).
  • Considered nature’s ‘gardener’, they are key in shaping the landscape, in pollination, germination of seeds and improving the fertility of forest soil with heaps of dung.

Elephant Census

  • Elephant census is conducted once in 5 years under the aegis of Project Elephant. Last Elephant Census was conducted in 2017.                Elephant Conservation In India
  • According to the Elephant Census 2017, India’s Asian elephant population is 27,312.
  • The numbers are lower than from the last census estimate in 2012 (between 29,391 and 30,711).
  • Karnataka has the highest number of elephants, followed by Assam and Kerala.

Project Elephant

  • Tiger faces threat of extinction, whereas the elephant faces threat of attrition.
  • The elephant numbers have not increased or decreased drastically but there is increasing pressure on the elephant habitats.
  • Project Elephant was launched in 1992. It is a centrally sponsored scheme.
    • To protect elephants, their habitat & corridors.
    • To address issues of man-animal conflict.
    • The welfare of captive elephants.

Campaign Haathi Mere Saathi

  • The Ministry of Environment and forests in partnership with Wildlife Trust of India has launched a campaign Hathi Mere Sathi. The aim of the campaign was to increase public awareness and develop friendships between elephants and the local population. The campaign Haathi Mere Saathi was for the welfare of the elephants, to conserve and protect the elephants in India.    Elephant Conservation In India
  • The campaign was launched in Delhi on 24th May 2011 at Elephant- 8 ministerial meetings. The countries that are a part of the Elephant-8 ministerial meeting are Kenya, Srilanka, Botswana, Republic of Congo, Tanzania, Indonesia, Thailand, and India.

Project RE-HAB

  • A pilot project RE-HAB (Reducing Elephant-Human Attacks using Bees) has been launched in Karnataka which entails installing bee boxes along the periphery of the forest and the villages to mitigate human-elephant conflict.
  • These spots are located on the periphery of Nagarahole National Park and Tiger Reserve, which is a known conflict zone.                Elephant Conservation In India
  • It is intended to create “bee fences” to thwart elephant attacks in human habitations using honeybees.
  • Implementing Agency:
    • The project is an initiative of the Khadi and Village Industries Commission (KVIC).
    • It is a sub-mission of KVIC’s National Honey Mission.

The Monitoring the Illegal Killing of Elephants (MIKE) programme

  • The Monitoring the Illegal Killing of Elephants (MIKE) programme, launched in 2003, is an international collaboration that tracks trends in information related to the illegal killing of elephants from across Africa and Asia, to monitor effectiveness of field conservation efforts.
  • MIKE Sites in India
    • Chirang-Ripu Elephant Reserve
    • Dihing Patkai Elephant Reserve
    • Eastern Dooars Elephant Reserve
    • Deomali Elephant Reserve
    • Garo Hills Elephant Reserve
    • Mayurbhanj Elephant Reserve
    • Shivalik Elephant Reserve
    • Mysore Elephant Reserve
    • Nilgiri Elephant Reserve
    • Wayanad Elephant Reserve

Elephant Corridor

  • An elephant corridor is defined as a stretch/narrow strips of forested (or otherwise) land that connects larger habitats with elephant populations and forms a conduit for animal movement between the habitats.
  • This movement helps enhance species survival and birth rate.
  • There are 88 identified elephant corridors in India.          Elephant Conservation In India
  • Out of the total of 88 corridors,
  • 20 are in south India,
  • 12 in north-western India,
  • 20 in central India,
  • 14 in northern West Bengal, and
  • 22 in north-eastern India.

Recent Efforts By The Government

  • Seed Bombs:
    • Recently Odisha’s Athagarh Forest Division has started casting seed balls (or bombs) inside different reserve forest areas to enrich food stock for wild elephants to prevent man-elephant conflict.
  • Right of Passage of the Animals:
    • Recently, the Supreme Court (SC) upheld the 2011 order of the Madras High Court (HC) on the Nilgiris elephant corridor, affirming the right of passage of the animals and the closure of resorts in the area.

 

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