Soon, a project to secure elephant corridors in India

As human-elephant conflicts escalate, the Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change has embarked on a massive project to identify and secure elephant corridors in the country.

Corridors could also be notified in order to give legal protection to the movement of elephants.

According to Environment Minister Bhupender Yadav, the ministry “recently launched the elephant corridor verification exercise and is also working on mapping the land use and land cover of elephant reserves in the region. countries using GIS technology which will also contribute to conservation ”.

Experts said elephant corridors have changed over the years. Eighty-eight corridors were jointly identified by the Ministry and Wildlife Trust of India (WTI) and published in 2005. In 2015, a second round of identification took place – and when it was published two years later , the number of corridors had increased to 101.

“The number of corridors has increased due to the fragmentation of existing corridors. Elephants found new routes for their journeys. Over the past decade, seven corridors have disappeared due to fragmentation and alteration of animal movements – they are no longer used by elephants. If these could be included, there would now be 108 corridors, ”said Dr Sandeep Kumar Tiwari, deputy head of conservation at WTI.

Dr Tiwari, who is part of a committee set up by the ministry earlier this year to examine the issue of elephant corridors, said fragmentation could take place due to linear infrastructure such as roads and railways, or a change in land use, including the development of plantations or agricultural plots.

Dr Prajna Panda of the ministry’s Elephant Project said the elephant corridor lists prepared by central and state governments do not match. “So we’re going back to the drawing board to match the ministry and state lists, and come out with a full list of lanes,” she said.

“Earlier this year, the ministry for the first time set parameters on what exactly an elephant corridor is and how it should be identified. This will eliminate confusion around identification and subsequent retention. Identifying the corridors, as well as verifying the land use patterns in these corridors, will help us formulate policies and prioritize actions on how the corridors should be conserved, ”added Dr Panda.

The corridor identification process will be undertaken in four elephant-rich regions: northwest, northeast, center-east and south. The ministry will launch an awareness campaign on Friday among forestry officials and other stakeholders in the UP and Uttarakhand (North West region). Similar campaigns will also be organized in other regions, before a final identification process is launched on October 18.

“One of the main things we will be looking at is the land use in these corridors and in the elephant reserves. When the corridors were first identified, many of them were already inhabited by humans; in others, habitation has taken hold. The house has grown into corridors that had hardly any before. Elephant areas have been overrun. Notifying the hallways will make them sacred and help us preserve the movement of animals, ”said Dr Tiwari.

He said fragmentation often occurs because the corridors cross private land. “A notification would ensure that land use is not altered within private property or, if that happens, that it does not impede the movement of animals,” Dr Tiwari added.

Ministry data on human-elephant conflict released last year reported 1,025 elephant deaths and 4,642 human deaths from 2009 to September 2019. Most of the human deaths were in Bengal western (821; 18%).

The highest number of elephant deaths was caused by electrocution (640; 62% of the total in 10 years), followed by train accidents (170; 17%), poaching (153; 15%) and poisoning (62; 6%). the data shows.

According to the 2017 WTI report for the ministry, 400 to 450 people are killed each year as a result of such a conflict in India, and “about 100 elephants are killed in retaliation for the damage they cause to human life and to property “.

In terms of land use, only 12.9% of the corridors were completely under forest cover compared to 24% in 2005, according to the report.