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NGT seeks action plan on elephant corridors

Topics Covered: Conservation related issues.

NGT seeks action plan on elephant corridors:


What has the NGT said?

Directed the Odisha government to prepare an action plan within three months on 14 identified elephant corridors for providing stress-free migration to jumbos from one habitation to another in the State.

What’s the issue?

  • NGT had directed authorities to expedite demarcation of the corridors and the process for formal notification within a specific time frame in 2017.
  • The government had sought time to inform the NGT about action plan to strengthen corridors. It, however, failed to give a concrete action on physical progress on corridors.

So, a NGO had moved the NGT seeking concrete action on strengthening of corridors.

Demands by the petitioner:

  1. Necessary legal action against encroachers and those violating the Provisions of the Forest Conservation Act 1980 and the Indian Forest Act 1927 in the proposed corridors.
  2. The government should remove the unauthorised buildings from the reserve forest land in Dhenkanal district, which sees acute human-elephant conflict, and make the forestland free from encroachment.

What are Elephant Corridors?

Elephant corridors are narrow strips of land that connect two large habitats of elephants. Elephant corridors are crucial to reduce animal fatalities due to accidents and other reasons. So fragmentation of forests makes it all the more important to preserve migratory corridors.

Why protect elephant corridors?

  1. 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.
  2. Nearly 40% of elephant reserves are vulnerable, as they are not within protected parks and sanctuaries. Also, the migration corridors have no specific legal protection.
  3. Forests that have turned into farms and unchecked tourism are blocking animals’ paths. Animals are thus forced to seek alternative routes resulting in increased elephant-human conflict.
  4. Weak regulation of ecotourism is severely impacting important habitats. It particularly affects animals that have large home ranges, like elephants.

Efforts at all- India level:

  • ‘Gaj Yatra’, a nationwide campaign to protect elephants, was launched on the occasion of World Elephant Day in 2017.
  • The campaign is planned to cover 12 elephant range states.
  • The campaign aims to create awareness about elephant corridors to encourage free movement in their habitat.

Forest Ministry guide to managing human-elephant conflict (Best Practices):

  1. Retaining elephants in their natural habitats by creating water sources and management of forest fires.
  2. Elephant Proof trenches in Tamil Nadu.
  3. Hanging fences and rubble walls in Karnataka.
  4. Use of chili smoke in north Bengal and playing the sound of bees or carnivores in Assam.
  5. Use of technology: Individual identification, monitoring of elephants in south Bengal and sending SMS alerts to warn of elephant presence.

Efforts by Private Organizations in this regard:

  • Asian Elephant Alliance, an umbrella initiative by five NGOs, had, last year, come together to secure 96 out of the 101 existing corridors used by elephants across 12 States in India.
  • NGOs Elephant Family, International Fund for Animal Welfare, IUCN Netherlands and World Land Trust have teamed up with Wildlife Trust of India’s (WTI) in the alliance.

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InstaLinks:

Prelims Link:

  1. IUCN conservation status of Asian Elephant.
  2. Elephant corridors in India.
  3. Calving period of elephants.
  4. Heritage animal of India.
  5. About Gaj Yatra.
  6. Elephant herd is led by?
  7. State with highest elephant population in India.

Mains Link:

Discuss the measures suggested by the Environment Ministry to manage man- elephant conflicts.

Sources: the Hindu.