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Biodiversity & Environment

Elephant Corridors in Odisha

  • 08 Dec 2020
  • 5 min read

Why in News

Recently, the National Green Tribunal (NGT) has directed the Odisha government to prepare an action plan for 14 identified elephant corridors.

Key Points

  • Background:
    • NGT’s Order in 2017:
      • The NGT had issued a prohibition order directing that all such activities which are not permissible to be carried out in a highly Eco Sensitive Zone (ESZ), should not be undertaken.
      • The NGT also directed authorities to expedite demarcation of the corridors within a specific time frame.
    • Odisha government’s Stand:
      • The Odisha government had proposed 14 corridors stretching over a total area of 870.61 sq.km. having a length of 420.8 km. Even after several years, no tangible progress had been made on the government's proposal.
  • Elephant Corridors:
    • They are narrow strips of land that connect two large habitats of elephants.
    • They are crucial to reduce animal fatalities due to accidents and other reasons.
    • Fragmentation of forests makes it all the more important to preserve migratory corridors.
    • This movement of Elephants helps in enhancing the species survival and birth rate.
    • 88 elephant corridors have been identified by the wildlife trust of India under the National elephant Corridor project.
    • Concern: The all-round development like human settlements, roads, railway line, electric lines, canal and mining are the main cause of corridor fragmentation.
    • Reasons for Protecting the Corridors:
      • The movement of elephants is essential to ensure that their populations are genetically viable. It also helps to regenerate forests on which other species, including tigers, depend.
      • Nearly 40% of elephant reserves are vulnerable, as they are not within protected parks and sanctuaries. Also, migration corridors have no specific legal protection.
      • Forests that have turned into farms and unchecked tourism are blocking animal paths. Animals are thus forced to seek alternative routes resulting in increased elephant-human conflict.
      • Weak regulation of ecotourism is severely impacting important habitats. It particularly affects animals that have large home ranges, like elephants.

Elephants

  • Elephants are keystone species.
  • There are three subspecies of Asian elephant – the Indian, Sumatran, and Sri Lankan.
  • The Indian elephant has the widest range and accounts for the majority of the remaining elephants on the continent.
  • Conservation Status of Indian Elephants:
  • India is home to 50% of the Asian Elephant population, and according to the 2017 elephant census, there are 27,312 elephants in the country, marking a decrease of nearly 3,000 elephants from the 2012 census.
  • India’s Initiatives for Conservation of Elephants:
  • Objectives:
    • To protect elephants, their habitat & corridors
    • To address issues of man-animal conflict
    • Welfare of captive elephants
  • International Initiatives:
  • Monitoring of Illegal Killing of Elephants (MIKE) Programme: It is mandated by the Conference Of Parties (COP) resolution of CITES. It was started in South Asia in 2003 with the following purpose –
    • To measure levels and trends in illegal hunting of elephants.
    • To determine changes in these trends over time.
    • To determine the factors causing or associated with these changes and to try and assess in particular to what extent observed trends are a result of any decisions taken by the Conference of the Parties to CITES.

Way Forward

  • Efforts should be to expand elephant corridors, using the successful models within the country by acquisition of lands using private funds and their transfer to the government. Ending human interference in the pathways of elephants is more a conservation imperative.
  • Sensitization and awareness among people at large is necessary to stop poaching and illegal trades.
  • Technologies such as Drones and satellites could be used for better monitoring throughout the corridors.

Source: TH

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