New Report Reveals 150 Elephant Corridors in India

A recent report from the Union Environment Ministry unveils the existence of at least 150 elephant corridors in India, with West Bengal topping the list with 26 such passages.

This is a significant increase from the 88 corridors identified in the 2010 Elephant Task Force report.

Key Points:

  • Intensification and Status of Elephant Corridors: The report notes an intensification of elephant use in 59 corridors, stability in 29, and a decrease in 29 others.
  • Conservation Importance: The report emphasizes the significance of safeguarding elephant corridors to prevent demographic isolation and maintain genetic diversity, reducing the risk of extinction for elephant populations.
  • India's Elephant Population: As of the last estimate in 2017, India is home to approximately 30,000 elephants, constituting 60 percent of the global elephant population.
  • Regional Distribution of Corridors: Among the four elephant-bearing regions in India, the east-central region boasts the highest number of corridors at 52, followed by the northeast region with 48 and the southern region with 32.
  • The northern region has the fewest corridors, numbering 18.
  • Corridor Locations and Trans-National Corridors: Out of the 150 corridors, 126 are within individual state boundaries, while 19 span two states.
  • Additionally, six trans-national corridors exist between India and Nepal, mainly in Uttar Pradesh.

Conservation Efforts by Government to Protect Elephants

Project Elephant (1992 - Present)

  • Launched in 1992, it's a dedicated, ongoing initiative to conserve India's elephant population.
  • Key objectives include protecting elephants, preserving their migration routes, and safeguarding their natural habitats.

Global Tribute on World Elephant Day

  • World Elephant Day, observed annually on August 12, highlights the global significance of these majestic animals.
  • Raises awareness about their crucial role in the ecosystem.

Creation of Elephant Corridors

  • Government-established elephant corridors ensure safe movement for elephants.
  • These designated patches of land provide access to food and water within forests, reducing human-elephant conflicts.
  • Utilizes LiDAR technology for precise corridor planning.

Financial Support and Crop Insurance

  • States and Union Territories receive financial aid through the 'Project Elephant' Centrally Sponsored Schemes.
  • Crop insurance under the Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojana covers farmers whose crops are damaged by wildlife, including elephants.

Capacity Building and Training

  • Ongoing efforts to enhance the capacity and training of forest personnel.
  • Focus on effective elephant population management and conflict mitigation.

National Heritage Animal Designation

  • Elephant designated as the National Heritage Animal in India.
  • Asian Elephant (Elephas maximus) receives the highest protection under the Indian Wildlife Protection Act (1972).

Ban on Ivory Trade and Protection Measures

  • Strict prohibition of elephant ivory trade in India.
  • All ivory markets and carvings closed since 1990.
  • Robust protection contributes to a stable Asian elephant population in the country.

DNA Profiling and Collaboration

  • Conduct DNA profiling of captive elephants.
  • Mobile application for data capture, reliable marking and tracing.

Government Policies and Legal Framework for Elephant Protection

Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972

  • Elephants listed in Schedule 1, receiving the highest level of protection.
  • Ownership of an elephant requires permission from the local Chief Wildlife Warden.

CITES Ratification (Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora)

  • Ratified in 1976, placing the Asiatic elephant in Appendix 1.
  • Prohibits international trade in species threatened with extinction.

Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, 1960

  • Formulated Animal Welfare Board.
  • Utilized for the care of captive elephants.

Gajah Task Force, 2010

  • Reviewed existing elephant protection measures.
  • Recommended various conservation strategies.
  • Identified 26 wildlife corridors for immediate enhancement.

Gaj Yatra and Gaj Mahotsav

  • Initiated in 2017 and 2018 by IFAW (International Fund for Animal Welfare) and Wildlife Trust of India.
  • Interactive events promoting elephant awareness.
  • Focus on securing wildlife corridors as highlighted in the "Rights of Passage" report.

HEC Mitigation (Human-Elephant Conflict)

  • Launch of the Surakshya portal in 2020.
  • Facilitates real-time monitoring of human-elephant conflicts to aid policymakers.

Gaj Gaurav Award, 2022

  • Recognizes grassroots efforts in elephant conservation.
  • Encourages and incentivizes elephant care initiatives.