Wild Elephants in India
25. June 2018
If the ultimate task of sanctuaries is to remove elephants from zoos and circuses, it is also essential to make sure that they can survive unmolested in what remains of well protected wild habitats. We therefore feel it is important to write about all aspects of elephant conservation.
Wild elephants’ habitat in Asia, already vastly reduced, is shrinking, and this inherently peaceful herbivore is becoming increasingly aggressive. India has a wild elephant population of between 23,000 and 32,000. Elephants have always been an important part of India’s cultural and religious heritage and are still revered today.
Nonetheless, population explosion and increased economic development continue to result in human-elephant conflicts as reported in The Times of India a few days ago:
CHENNAI: Appalled that hundreds of acres of forest land in the water spread
area of the Bhavanisagar dam have been illegally occupied by more than
1,000 farmers and that the movement of wild animals, including elephants,
in such areas were restricted by illegal solar electric fences raised by
them, the Madras high court has directed the forest department to remove
such fencing immediately. *
While legal protection does mitigate the shrinking of forests where wild elephants live, roads, rail tracks and other industrial developments, near or even in protected areas, can largely diminish well meaning conservation efforts. Studies have shown that each kilometer of road construction through forest impacts at least 10 hectares of wildlife habitat to its detriment. **
Fortunately, threats to elephants have measurably decreased since PROJECT ELEPHANT, backed by the Indian government, was established in 1992. The project attempts to look after 25 elephant reserves covering a total area of 58,000 square kilometers. Together with CITES , the project has also set up MIKE (monitoring of illegal killing of elephants), in an effort to reduce the illegal killing of male tuskers.
As a result of these efforts there are now large numbers of sustainable elephant herds thriving in the south and the northeast of the country.
* The Times of India : June 22, 208 as forwarded by http://www.savetheelephants.org
** Source : https://india.mongabay.com/2018/06/20/roads-reduce-conservation-effectiveness-pf-protected-areas-in-the-western ghats/