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Right Of Passage: Elephant Corridors Of India

Right Of Passage: Elephant Corridors Of India

An elephant's foot buffers the impact of massive body mass and is portected by a tough fatty sole. Credit:Nayan Khanolkar Sanctuary Cover Story April 2011: Deep in the deciduous montane forests of the Western Ghats, a 2,200 acre strip of land connects the Tirunelli and Begur Reserve Forests. Known as the Tirunelli-Kudrakote corridor, this biodiversity hotspot connects the Brahmagiri Wildlife Sanctuary of Karnataka with Wynaad Wildlife Sanctuary of Kerala through the forests of the Wynaad Forest Division further leading to the Bandipur National Park and the Mudumalai Tiger Reserve. A lifeline for more than 6,500 Asian elephants – the corridor is vital to the survival of the species. It also provides a safe passage to a number of other species including tigers.

Tirunelli-Kudrakote is among the 88 elephant corridors across the country, identified through a four-year survey by the Wildlife Trust of India (WTI)'s National Elephant Corridor Project.

Until a few years ago, five human settlements were located here and posed a major threat to the free movement of elephants and other wildlife. In 2006, WTI initiated a project to secure the corridor through land purchase, facilitate voluntary relocation of residents and ensure legal protection for the corridor. Of the five settlements, three (Thirulakunnu, Valiyaemmadi and Kottapadi) have already been relocated and the fourth (Pullayankolly) will soon be relocated and the land purchased with the support of the Elephant Family, IUCN-Netherlands and the World Land Trust.

Likewise, with funding support of the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW), WTI secured the Edayarhalli-Doddasampige elephant corridor in Karnataka connecting Chamrajnagar Division (Biligiri Ranganswamy Temple (BRT) Sanctuary) and Kollegal Wildlife Divisions. This was the first elephant corridor in Asia to be secured through private purchase, and provides a safe passage for about 1,000 elephants.

Elephants have already been observed increasingly using these vacated areas confirming that giving them "right of passage" is the best way to protect their future.

CORRIDOR STATUS

If you look at a map depicting the distribution of the elephant today, you will see a shattered kingdom, a vastly reduced range broken into fragments, a few drops of colour splashed accidentally on a worn out South Asian fabric. This is the tragedy facing the Asian elephant today - existence in isolation. Over a hundred such fragments are scattered across its range, with more than 40 isolated populations on the island of Sumatra alone. India, too, comes close in the number of distinct elephant populations across the four regions they are found, with little chance of intermingling as nature would have otherwise permitted.

The long-term survival of a large-bodied, far-ranging animal such as the elephant can be ensured only through maintaining viable populations within viable habitats. For maintaining such habitats it is vital that we maintain large, unfragmented landscapes. How large these landscapes should be is open to discussion, but it is clear from studies of the elephant's home range, population dynamics and elephant human conflicts that this should be of the order of several hundred square kilometres at a minimum in the short term, and certainly several thousand square kilometres to ensure long-term viability.

Fortunately, India does have a few areas where the above conditions are still met. The problem is that even here the options of keeping these landscapes without disintegrating further are fast disappearing. As the country moves into the high gear of economic growth, the symbols of development - roads, railway lines, dams and canals, pipelines, mines, expansion of settlement and cultivation - threaten to permanently rip apart the tattered habitat fabric. In many places, the linkages literally hang by a thread.

CONSOLIDATING CORRIDORS

An elephant's foot buffers the impact of massive body mass and is portected by a tough fatty sole. Credit:Nayan KhanolkarElephants are doing relatively better in South India than elsewhere in India. But here too problems such as roads and highways pose a major threat. It is imperative that we begin the process of consolidating landscapes for elephants and other wildlife by protecting and strengthening existing corridors, and creating corridors where possible. Credit:B. Ramakrishnan, WTI India has an estimated wild population of about 25,000-28,000 elephants, roughly 50 per cent of the world's Asian elephant population. These range across 26 Elephant Reserves spread over about 110,000 sq. km. forests in northeast, central, northwest and south India. Of the 88 elephant corridors identified, 12 are in northwestern India, 20 in central India, 14 in northern West Bengal, 22 in northeastern India and 20 in southern India. Of the total, 77.3 per cent of the corridors are being regularly used by elephants. Fragmentation of elephant habitat was most severe in northern West Bengal followed by northwestern India, northeastern India and central India respectively. The least fragmentation was noted in southern India. Only 28.5 per cent of the corridors in the country are one kilometre or below in length. However, on a regional basis, about 65 per cent of the corridors in southern India are one kilometre or below in length. In southern India, 65 per cent of the corridors are under the Protected Area network and/or under Reserve Forests and 65 per cent of the corridors are fully under forest cover. In comparison, for example, 90 per cent of the corridors in central India are jointly under forest, agriculture and settlements and only 10 per cent are completely under forest. On a country-wide basis, only 24 per cent of the corridors are under complete forest cover. Settlements and the resulting biotic pressure in corridors are serious issues and throughout India, only 22.8 per cent corridors are without any major settlements.

On a zonal basis, the highest number of corridors was seen in northern West Bengal, which has one corridor for every 157 sq. km. of available elephant habitat. The lowest number was in southern India, where one corridor exists for every 1,995 sq. km. of the available habitat. Similarly for northeastern India, one corridor exists for every 1,764 sq. km., central India has one corridor in every 1,775 sq. km. and northern India has one in every 460 sq. km. Of the identified corridors, about one third (30 per cent) are of high ecological priority and 67 per cent are of medium priority. Based on conservation feasibility, 19.3 per cent are of high priority, 55.7 per cent of medium and 25 per cent of low priority.

NORTHWESTERN INDIA

The northwestern elephant habitat that once extended from Katerniaghat Wildlife Sanctuary in the east to the Yamuna river in the west is now fragmented at many places. The steep Himalaya and the Shivaliks bound this elephant range to the north and the fertile Terai to the south. Human habitation and the resulting developmental programmes have led to habitat fragmentation and shrinkage. As a result, the elephant population in this region has been broken up into six sub-populations. From west to east, the populations include those between the Yamuna and the Ganga river, Ganga and Khoh river, Khoh and Haldwani, Haldwani and Sharda river, in and around the Dudhwa Tiger Reserve and that of the Katerniaghat Wildlife Sanctuary. The major breaks in this elephant range are along the Ganga river, along the Gola river and between the Dudhwa National Park and Katerniaghat Wildlife Sanctuary severely hindering elephant movement. In several other places, the habitat connectivity is under severe threat of breaking up.

The growing human population and their encroachment of elephant habitat has not only fragmented it but has also led to the degradation of available land. Dependence on the forest for fuel, timber, livestock grazing and conversion of natural forest into monoculture plantation of tea, eucalyptus, etc. have severely affected the habitat and exotics like Lantana and Parthenium have taken root. The impact of Gujjar settlements on the landscape is multifarious. Twelve corridors (refer to box for those of high priority) have been identified in this elephant range.

THE NATIONAL ELEPHANT CORRIDOR PROJECT

The Project uses three basic approaches in securing elephant corridors throughout the country. In addition to land purchase and facilitating voluntary relocation as one of the approaches, the Wildlife Trust of India also assists the state Forest Departments to secure corridors by mediating between the authorities and locals settled in the corridors. The third approach involves community participation. Deploying this approach, WTI has encouraged the local communities in Garo Hills to set aside about 1,250 hectares of community (A'khing) land for conservation. It has successfully assisted the authorities in Garo Hills, Meghalaya, in securing the Siju-Rewak elephant corridor, connecting Balpharkam National Park and Siju Wildlife Sanctuary with Rewak Reserve Forest leading to Nokrek National Park. Eco-development support is provided to these communities and habitat restoration activities are carried out in jhum-cultivated land, employing local population.

CENTRAL INDIA

The elephant habitats of central India are spread over an area of 17,000 sq. km. in the states of Jharkhand, Orissa and a part of southern West Bengal. The 2,500 odd elephants in the range occupy the most fragmented elephant habitat of the country that has been degraded due to mining, shifting cultivation and developmental activities. Jharkhand has two distinct elephant populations, viz. around 700 elephants in Palamau and Singhbhum. The Palamau population includes the Betla National Park, Palamau Tiger Reserve and adjoining areas. The Singbhum population occupies available forest area of the Dalma Wildlife Sanctuary and the forests of Saranda, Porhat, Kolhan, Saraikala (formerly North Chaibasa) and Dhalbhum Forest Divisions.

The elephant habitats in Orissa consist of about 11,000 sq. km. that form about 24 per cent of the forest cover of the state. The Mahanadi river divides the elephant habitat into two parts. The elephant habitats of the state can be broadly divided into those occupied by four major populations: a) Similipal-Kuldiha-Hadgarh and the adjoining population comprises three Protected Areas, viz. Similipal Tiger Reserve, Hadgarh Wildlife Sanctuary and Kuldiha Wildlife Sanctuary and is in continuity with the Noto, Sukinda and Badampahar Reserve Forests and supports about 500 elephants. Once contiguous, now Kuldiha has been disconnected from Similipal. The Mayurbhanj Elephant Reserve has been constituted to strengthen the conservation of elephants in this area. b) Satkosia-Baisipalli and the adjacent population of Athamalik and Angul Forest Divisions is situated in the central part of Orissa and includes two Protected Areas, Satkosia Gorge Wildlife Sanctuary and Baisipalli Wildlife Sanctuary forming part of the Mahanadi State Elephant Reserve (1,023 sq. km.). Satkosia-Baisipalli forms a continuous habitat with the Mahanadi river bifurcating them. c) Madanpur-Rampur-Kotgarh and Chandrapur population is to the south of the river Mahanadi and covers the districts of Phulbani, Kalahandi and Ganjam. The population of Lakhari Valley Wildlife Sanctuary and Mahendragiri have been isolated from other elephant populations. d) The South Keonjhar plateau and adjacent areas includes the Deogan, Ghatgaon and Telkoi Ranges of Keonjhar Forest Division and Kamakhyanagar East and West Ranges of Dhenkanal Forest Division spread over 2,600 sq. km. area. Considerable deterioration of elephant habitat has occurred in the Dhenkanal Forest Division due to the construction of Rengali irrigation canal at Samal and other medium-sized irrigation canals. This, coupled with encroachment, has fragmented the habitat.

Elephant herds move from the Dalma Wildlife Sanctuary of Jharkhand to Midnapore East and West Forest Divisions, Bankura North and South Divisions, Rupnarayan Planning and Survey Division, Panchet soil conservation Division, Puruliya and Kangsabati Soil Conservation Division II as well.

NORTHERN WEST BENGAL

The elephants of northern West Bengal form the western-most extension of the Northeast Indian population of Asian elephants. There are fewer than 300 elephants in this region, spread across the districts of Darjeeling, Jalpaiguri and Cooch Behar, comprising nine forest divisions - Kurseong, Wildlife-I, Baikunthapur, Kalimpong, Wildlife-II, Jalpaiguri, Cooch Behar, Buxa Tiger Reserve (West) and Buxa Tiger Reserve (East). Although this number is only a little above one per cent of the total elephant population of India, an extraordinarily high level of human-elephant conflict, characterises this region. Northern West Bengal has a forest area of 3,051 sq. km. or about 24 per cent of the total geographical area of the state. However, the elephant habitat is confined to about 2,200 sq. km. in three distinct geographical zones - (a) The Terai stretch between the Mechi river and the Teesta river, comprising forest areas of the Kurseong Division and the Mahananda Wildlife Sanctuary, (b) The western dooars stretch between the Teesta and Torsa rivers comprising Apalchand range of Baikunthapur Division, Jalpaiguri, Kalimpong and Cooch Behar Forest Divisions, Jaldapara Wildlife Sanctuary, Chapramari Wildlife Sanctuary and Gorumara National Park and (c) The eastern dooars stretch between Torsa and Sankosh river that adjoins Assam and Bhutan and comprises the forests of Cooch Behar Forest Division and Buxa Tiger Reserve.

THE NORTHEAST

The elephants of northeastern India (see page 64) had an almost contiguous distribution with the populations of Bhutan, Bangladesh, Nepal and Myanmar in the past. However, due to degradation and fragmentation of the habitat, the elephants are now confined to certain discrete populations. On the north bank of the Brahmaputra, the population extends from northern West Bengal through the Himalayan foothills and dooars covering southern Bhutan, northern Assam and Arunachal Pradesh. The elephant population on the south bank of the Brahmaputra can be divided into three distinct populations: that of the eastern, central and western areas. The central range is one of the most important habitats for the elephant and extends from Kaziranga National Park across the Karbi plateau, parts of the central Brahmaputra plains and the basin of the Diyung river to the foot of the Meghalaya plateau in Assam and Meghalaya. This population has become separated from the south bank-western population due to the expansion of Guwahati, clearing of forest, ‘jhum' cultivation and settlements along the National Highway 40 (Shillong-Guwahati) in the Rhi-Bhoi district of Meghalaya. The habitat in the western range supports a significant population of elephants in parts of Assam and Meghalaya. It extends from near Guwahati through the foothills of the Meghalaya plateau (Garo and Khasi Hills) including the districts of Kamrup and Goalpara in Assam and Rhi-Bhoi, West Khasi Hills, East Garo Hills, West Garo Hills and South Garo Hills of Meghalaya. They also occasionally move to forests of Bangladesh from the forest areas of Baghmara in Meghalaya.

SUSTAINABLE USE: ELEPHANTS KNOW; HUMAN MAY LEARN - BY ASHOK KUMAR

Elephants knew of sustainable use long before it became a catchword for the human race. A large herbivore which lives in family groups uses a substantial amount of vegetation and fresh water - both as home and food. Fresh water is a product of a healthy vegetative system; forests which absorb heavy downpours, and release them slowly into streams that become rivers. Indian mythology recounts the matted hair of Lord Shiva absorbing the torrential Ganges, as the river descends from the Himalaya into the plains. Almost all our riverine habitats support elephants or have done so in the past. Elephants are the gardeners of our forests. They eat its produce, fruit, leaves and barks, they uproot trees to clear forest land to create grasslands that enable sunlight to reach the forest floor for other ungulates and ground animals, rotting stumps are used by insects which are in turn the food of other species as well as avifauna. To achieve a harmonious balance and to ensure that excessive use does not degrade their home, they are constantly on the move. Scientists call it transhumance, which is not exactly migration. During transhumance, elephants encounter man-made barriers which have come up recently or over multiple years. Yet historic memory ingrained in the matriarch allows them to seek alternative routes to another forest. When the path is completely blocked, they make an effort to get through human habitat which leads to conflict. While we may not be able to turn the human development clock backwards, we can think of solutions. If small pieces/strips of land could be secured, perhaps by buying land or other means, the small strips will provide connectivity to elephants. That is never easy in human dominated landscapes. There are yet, examples where this has been successfully achieved. Close to the Corbett Tiger Reserve's main entry gate, Sundarkhal, there is a large tract of settlers who have come from the higher hills to the forest near the Kosi river. The river itself is a source of water for carnivores as well as elephants and other herbivores. Small strips of waste land are used by elephants and other wild species. Similarly elephants of the western part of Rajaji need to get to the Ganges in the dry season. Even if we are able to secure these two elephants corridors in northern India, we can help the population a great deal. Instead of trying to secure large landscapes, we can begin by saving select corridors. A combination of good science and common sense including lessons in sustainable utilisation from elephants can make a world of difference.

SOUTHERN INDIA

The southernmost elephant populations of India range over the two principal mountain chains of southern India (the Western Ghats and a part of the Eastern Ghats) in the states of Kerala, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh. There are about eight populations within this range based on contiguity of habitats.

Northern Karnataka has about 40-60 elephants isolated from the other populations of the Western Ghats. The elephants are present in Uttara Kannada and Belgaum districts. The elephants inhabiting the crest-line of Karnataka are highly scattered in South Kanara, Mangalore, Shimoga and Chikmangalur districts. The moist deciduous forest of the Bhadra Wildlife Sanctuary is the major elephant habitat that lies on the Malnad plateau on the eastern flanks of the Western Ghats. The largest single population of elephants in Asia occupy areas south of this region extending from the Brahmagiri hills to the Eastern Ghats, comprising the Nilgiri hills of Tamil Nadu, the Bandipur-Nagarahole Protected Area complex of Karnataka, Wynaad in Kerala and the Biligiri Ranganswamy Temple Sanctuary of Karnataka adjoining the Satyamangalam, Kollegal, Hosur and Dharmapuri Forest Divisions. The region has diverse vegetation types with over 3,300 sq. km. out of a total of about 12,600 sq. km. lying within the Protected Area network. This complex is estimated to have a minimum of 6,300 elephants.

Other than these large populations, an isolated herd of about 30 elephants inhabit the Kaundinya Wildlife Sanctuary in the Chittoor district of Andhra Pradesh that have originally migrated from the Hosur and Anekal Forest Divisions of Tamil Nadu. A small group of about six elephants is also reported from an isolated area in Tirupattur Forest Division of Tamil Nadu.

The Indian part of the fertile, alluvial Terai belt comprises some 30,000 sq. km. of elephant habitat that once extended from the Katerniaghat Wildlife Sanctuary in the east to the Yamuna river in the west. Highways, villages, irrigation projects and numerous railway lines such as this track in the Dudhwa Tiger Reserve have fragmented this belt. - Dr. Anish AndheriaDown south, the elephant population of Nilambur, Silent Valley and Coimbatore belt is spread over 2,300 sq. km. of habitat. The Anamalai-Parambikulam area is a stretch of about 5,500 sq. km. and is home for about 1,600 elephants. This area covers a number of forest divisions of Kerala and Tamil Nadu including Protected Areas such as the Indira Gandhi, Paramabikulam, Chimmoni, Chinnar, Peechi-Vazhani, Thattekkad Bird Sanctuary, Eravikulam National Park and in addition to the Palni hills, Vazhachal, Nelliyampathi, Malayattur, Mankulam and Munnar areas.

The Idukki Wildlife Sanctuary and the adjacent areas of Ayyappankoil and Nagarampara Ranges and part of the Munnar and Kothamangalam Forest Divisions have a small population of elephants in an isolated patch of forests of about 300 sq. km. with a number of settlements in and around the forests. The elephant population south of this inhabits the Periyar-Srivilliputhur-Highwavy complex extending up to the Achenkoil forest through Ranni, Konni, Punalur and Thenmala Forest Divisions. The southern-most population of elephants in India, numbering about 200, ranges in the evergreen forests of Agasthyamalai, Neyyar, Shendurney and Peppara Wildlife Sanctuaries and Kalakkad-Mundanthurai Tiger Reserve.

It is imperative that we begin the process of consolidating landscapes for elephants and other wildlife through protecting and strengthening existing corridors, or creating corridors where this is feasible and the situation not too late. This is not an easy process. It may take years to set up a particular corridor. Each potential corridor will have to be "ground truthed" to determine its importance, feasibility of creation and cost involved.

Various scientists and field biologists were involved in the preparation of this article which is the condensed version of the document ‘Right to Passage' which can be downloaded at: http://wti.org.in/publications/reports.htm. What is an Asian Elephant Elephas maximus Corridor? Arun Venkataraman Documenting the Corridors: The Process Sandeep Kumar Tiwari and P.S. Easa Elephant Corridors of Northwestern India A.K. Singh, A.J.T. Johnsingh and A. Christy Williams Elephant Corridors of Central India Sandeep Kumar Tiwari, A.K. Singh, R.K. Singh and D. Swain Elephant Corridors of Northern West Bengal Sandeep Kumar Tiwari Elephant Corridors of Northeastern India Sandeep Kumar Tiwari, Sunil Subba Karyong, Prabal Sarkar, Anwaruddin Choudhury and A. Christy Williams. Elephant Corridors of Southern India Surendra Varma, Arun Venkataraman, R. Sukumar and P.S. Easa

EDITED BY VIVEK MENON, SANDEEP KUMAR TIWARI, P. S. EASA AND R. SUKUMAR

Corridors of High Ecological Priority

CHILLA-MOTICHUR, UTTARAKHAND

This corridor extends across the Ganges and connects the western part of the Rajaji National Park (and thereby the Dehradun Forest Division and Shivalik Forest Division) to the eastern part of the Park and maintains the Rajaji-Corbett elephant population as a single entity. The land for rehabilitation of Khand Gaon-III has been identified and villagers are willing to move out. WTI is assisting the Uttarakhand Forest Department to secure this corridor.

THREATS: Road and railway traffic, the settlements of the Tehri dam evacuees, Raiwala army camp and ammunition dump, Chilla power channel and cattle grazing.

CONSERVATION PLAN: 1. Declaration, demarcation and legal protection of the corridor under laws appropriate for the state, 2. Rehabilitation of Khand Gaon III village to Lalpani Block no. II of Rishikesh Range, 3. Relocation of Raiwala army camp outside the corridor area, 4. Construction of a flyover of 1.5-2 km. length between Raiwala and Haridwar near Motichur, 5. Regulation of road and rail traffic, especially at night.

RAWSAN-SONANADI (VIA LANDSDOWNE) OR RAJAJI-CORBETT, UTTARAKHAND

An earlier corridor that existed, south of the hilly tract between the Khoh river (west of Corbett Tiger Reserve) and the eastern end of the Rajaji National Park (Rawasan river) is now degraded due to cultivation and settlements. The elephants now move across the hilly terrain in the eastern part of the corridor.

THREATS: Settlements and industrial area at the periphery of the corridor and the resultant biotic pressure, expansion of settlements (including Gujjar) in corridor area, Heavy traffic on Kotdwar-Pauri road, encroachments in the Malan river near Karalghati, Laldhang and Kotdwar and unplanned electric fences in Laldhang and Kotdwar Range.

CONSERVATION PLAN: 1. Declaration, demarcation and legal protection of the corridor under laws appropriate for the state, 2. Seek alternatives for Gujjar families from the corridor area,
3. Regulation of traffic on Kotdwar-Pauri road, 4. Demarcation of forest boundary on the southern side of the corridor, 5. Re-alignment of electric fences in Laldhang and Kotdwar Range, 6. Securing 10 ha. of land in Bini Jamargaddi village near the corridor.

CHILIKIYA-KOTA OR KOSI RIVER (DHANGARI-SUNDERKHAL), UTTARAKHAND

This is the second of three corridors that connect the Corbett Tiger Reserve and Ramnagar Forest Division. Elephants cross the road at Dhangari gate of Corbett Tiger Reserve and also through Sunderkhal village. This village stretches over four kilometres along the main road on forestland. Solitary bulls mostly use the corridor.

THREATS: Encroachment, grazing and firewood collection

CONSERVATION PLAN: 1. Declaration, demarcation and legal protection of the corridor under laws appropriate for the state, 2. Improvement of forest cover in corridor, 3. Seek alternatives for Sunderkhal village.

MALANI-KOTA, KOSI RIVER (RINGORA-BIJRANI), UTTARAKHAND

This is the third corridor that connects Corbett Tiger Reserve with Ramnagar Forest Division. This corridor passes through the Ringora village and a private resort. Elephants move between Ringora village and the Bijrani gate of the Corbett Tiger Reserve, mostly in close proximity of the village.

THREATS: Increasing number of resorts in the vicinity, settlements in the corridor area and grazing.

CONSERVATION PLAN: 1. Declaration, demarcation and legal protection of the corridor under laws appropriate for the state, 2. Seek alternatives for Ringora and Amdanda villages.

ANKUA-AMBIA, JHARKHAND

Elephants use this corridor to move from Saranda to Kolhan Forest Division. Mining of iron ore at the Manoharpur Group of Mines adjacent to the corridor and heavy road traffic through the corridor hinders the movement of elephants. A new exit route for ore transportation from Manoharpur Mines will hinder elephant movement and escalate human-elephant conflict in the area. Due to the great potential of the mine, the traffic movement is expected to increase in the future.

THREATS: Iron ore mining adjacent to the corridor area. This area has Asia's largest single point iron-ore deposit and heavy movement of trucks on the road especially at night.

CONSERVATION PLAN: 1. Declaration, demarcation and legal protection of the corridor under laws appropriate for the state, 2. Regulation of vehicular traffic at night, 3. Preparation of a detailed land-use and environmental management plan and its strict implementation, 4. Looking for new methods of ore transport viz. ropeway/trolley.

SIMILIPAL-SATKOSIA, ORISSA

This corridor connects the Similipal National Park with the Hadagarh Wildlife Sanctuary through the Noto and Satkosia Reserve Forests. The corridor is intact at present, but human settlement and anthropogenic pressure is slowly degrading the area and can lead to fragmentation.

THREATS: Expansion of settlements and encroachments in the corridor, degradation of corridor forest, especially in Satkosia and Noto Reserve Forests and conversion of forest land into agricultural land in Satkosia.

CONSERVATION PLAN: 1. Declaration, demarcation and legal protection of the corridor under laws appropriate for the state, 2. Eviction of encroachments, 3. Improve forest cover in corridor forest, 4. Wildlife conservation awareness programme among the local people to stop the "Akhand shikhar" (mass hunting) in the forest.

BAULA-KULDIHA, ORISSA

The corridor connects the Kuldiha Wildlife Sanctuary with the Hadagarh Wildlife Sanctuary through small hillocks in the Garsahi Reserve Forest, Gaguapahar, Balihudi and Baula hills. The corridor is now confined only to these hills as villages have come up near the foothills.

THREATS: Increase in human settlements because of stone quarries and encroachment, continuous movement of heavy vehicles and blasting in the stone quarries and in Baula chromite mines, degradation of corridor forest and expansion of agricultural activities.

CONSERVATION PLAN: 1. Declaration, demarcation and legal protection of the corridor under laws appropriate for the state, 2. Preparation of a detailed land-use and environmental management plan, 3. Improve forest cover in corridor forests, 4. Eco-development activities in villages in the foothills to reduce dependency on the corridor forest and to improve cover, 5. Prevent expansion of agricultural land towards corridor.

TAL-KHOLGARH, ORISSA

This corridor connects the Tal Reserve Forest with the Kholgarh Reserve Forest and the Landakot Reserve Forest thereby connecting the elephant population of the Satkosia Wildlife Sanctuary with that in the Khalasuni Wildlife Sanctuary through the Baruni (East and West) Reserve Forest and the Raun Reserve Forest. Heavy traffic on National Highway-42 and a railway line (Sambalpur-Talcher) has greatly affected elephant movement. Elephants cross the railway line near Podabarunda.

THREATS: Heavy traffic on National Highway-42, agriculture and settlements, railway line through corridor area and degradation of forest, especially in the Tal Reserve Forest and expansion
of Rairakhol township.

CONSERVATION PLAN: 1. Declaration, demarcation and legal protection of the corridor under laws appropriate for the state, 2. Improvement of cover in the corridor forest, 3. Relocation of Barasikia village outside the corridor area, 4. Regulation of night traffic on National Highway-42, 5. Reduced frequency of trains at night.

REMARK: The entire forest patch between the Satkosia Wildlife Sanctuary and the Khalasuni Wildlife Sanctuary is facing severe biotic pressure. However, the main constriction is between the Nuagaon and Baruni Reserve Forests and between the Tal and Kholgarh Reserve Forests.

KOTGARH-CHANDRAPUR, ORISSA

The Kotgarh Wildlife Sanctuary of the Balliguda Forest Division is connected with the Chandrapur Reserve Forest of Raygada Forest Division through this corridor. Elephants pass through Lassery, Belgarh and Baliguda forest blocks and some settlements to move from Kotgarh to Chandrapur.

THREATS: Degradation and fragmentation of habitat and expansion of settlements and agricultural land.

CONSERVATION PLAN: 1. Declaration, demarcation and legal protection of the corridor under laws appropriate for the state, 2. Improving forest cover in the corridor, 3. Seek alternatives for Durgapanga and Hanumantpur village.

BUXA-RIPU AT SANKOSH, WEST BENGAL AND ASSAM

This corridor is a contiguous forest that connects the Buxa Tiger Reserve of Bengal with the Ripu Reserve Forest of the Kochugaon Forest Division, Assam. The Sankosh river passes through Buxa
and Kochugaon.

THREATS: Biotic pressure from Sankosh and Kumargram villages and degradation of forest in and around the villages.

CONSERVATION PLAN: 1. Declaration, demarcation and legal protection of the corridor under laws appropriate for the state, 2. Habitat improvement in the Ripu Reserve Forest.

PAKKE-DOIMARA AT TIPI, ARUNACHAL PRADESH

This is a vital link between the Pakke Wildlife Sanctuary and Doimara Reserve Forest. The elephants cross the Kameng river and Bhalukpong-Bomdila road near Tipi village. The Sessa Orchid Research Centre, Tipi Range Office and Tipi village along with settlements are a major hindrance to elephant movement.

THREATS: Expansion of the Tipi township, heavy traffic on Bhalukpong-Bomdila-Tawang road and Orchid Research Centre and Tipi Range Office.

CONSERVATION PLAN: 1. Declaration, demarcation and legal protection of the corridor under laws appropriate for the state, 2. Relocation of the Sessa Orchid Research Centre and Tipi Range Office, 3. Find alternatives for human settlements, 4. Regulation of vehicular traffic at night in the Bhalukpong-Bomdila-Tawang road.

PAKKE-DOIMARA AT DEZLING, ARUNACHAL PRADESH

This corridor connects the Doimara Reserve Forest with the Pakke Wildlife Sanctuary and is located between the town of Bhalukpong and Tipi. The corridor area starts from the Dhuwang Nullah and extends up to 900 m. towards Tippi. The area is used extensively by elephants.

THREATS: Expansion of Tipi village and Bhalukpong town, traffic along Bhalukpong-Bomdila-Tawang highway, recent slash and burn cultivation (jhum) and encroachment.

CONSERVATION PLAN: 1. Declaration, demarcation and legal protection of the corridor under laws appropriate for the state, 2. Prevention of the expansion of Tipi village and Bhalukpong town towards the corridor, 3. Preventing damage to plantation in the corridor area, 4. Regulation of night traffic on the Bhalukpong-Bomdila-Tawang road.

PAKKE-PAPUM AT LONGKA NULLAH, ARUNACHAL PRADESH

This is a narrow corridor that connects the Pakke Tiger Reserve with the Papum Reserve Forest and is at the foothills near Longka nullah and is an old plantation area.

THREATS: Illegal felling of trees, drilling activities for the dam and traffic on Pakke-Kissang road.

CONSERVATION PLAN: 1. Declaration, demarcation and legal protection of the corridor under laws appropriate for the state, 2. Prevent illicit felling of trees, 3. Finding alternatives for Longka village (three families), 4. Regulate night traffic on the Pakke-Kissang road.

KALAPAHAR-DAIGURUNG, ASSAM

This corridor, located about 22 km. from Silonijan (Karbi Anglong) on the Silonijan-Chokikhola road is a small patch of forest located between Sotiona and Parolijan villages (Parolijan river). It is encircled by two hills, namely Kalapahar and Risak on either side. This corridor has connectivity with the Kaziranga National Park via the Kalioni Reserve Forest.

THREATS: Road traffic, deforestation of the corridor and adjacent forests, expansion of the adjacent villages, agriculture including slash and burn (jhum) cultivation and grazing.

CONSERVATION PLAN: 1. Declaration, demarcation and legal protection of the corridor under laws appropriate for the state, 2. Prevent expansion of settlements and agriculture, 3. Regulation of night traffic on the Silonijan-Chakikhola road and Silonijan-Murphulani road, 4. Prevent deforestation and minimise grazing.

KAZIRANGA - KARBI ANGLONG, PANBARI, ASSAM*

This corridor connects the elephant habitats of the Kaziranga National Park with the Karbi Anglong forest. Another corridor connects the park to Burhapahar. The corridor area towards Kaziranga on the eastern side of National Highway 37 is mostly under agriculture. The Panbari forest to the west of the highway has good forest.

THREATS: Heavy traffic on National Highway 37, agricultural land between the boundaries of Kaziranga National Park and National Highway 37.

CONSERVATION PLAN: 1. Declaration, demarcation and legal protection of the corridor under laws appropriate for the state, 2. Regulating traffic flow on National Highway 37 at night, 3. Speeding up final notification of the corridor area as a national park by acquiring land, 4. Conversion of tea gardens into forestland.

*WTI is working to secure this corridor

BAGHMARA-BALPAKRAM, MEGHALAYA

This corridor connecting the Balpakram National Park with the Baghmara Reserve Forest is vital in maintaining habitat contiguity of about 600 sq. km. of elephant habitat. Elephants generally pass through Dambuk, Jhongkhol, Dambuk Atong and Hathibhel villages. Presently, the corridor is safe but due to rich deposits of coal in this area, the corridor could be affected in future.

THREATS: Slash and burn (jhum) cultivation, the possible mining of a rich deposit of coal, expansion of villages in the corridor forest and destruction of natural forest for plantation, more rapidly in recent years.

CONSERVATION PLAN: 1. Declaration, demarcation and legal protection of the corridor under laws appropriate for the state, 2. Preventing the villagers from further forest destruction for monoculture plantation, 3. Prohibiting destructive developmental activities in the area, 4. Prevention of potential mining for coal, 5. Exploring the possibility of establishing a Community Reserve.

EDAYARHALLI-DODDASMPIGE, KARNATAKA*

The elephant range to the east of the Biligiri Rangan hills was divided by a long strip of cultivation, extending south from the town of Kollegal to the Tibetan settlement at Byloor for a distance of 50 km. This strip nearly cut off the Doddasampige Reserve Forest of BRT Sanctuary from the Ramapuram range of Kollegal Division. Only a narrow corridor now exists between the villages of Kurubaradoddi and Aandipalya along the Kollegal-Satyamangalam highway.

THREATS: Kollegal-Sathyamangalam highway, human habitation and crop cultivation around the corridor areas.

CONSERVATION PLAN: *This corridor has been secured by WTI and handed over to the Karnataka Forest Department for inclusion as part of the BRT Sanctuary.

CHAMRAJNAGAR - TALAMALAI AT MUDDAHALLI, KARNATAKA AND TAMIL NADU

This is the second corridor that connects the Chamrajnagar and Satyamangalam Forest Divisions. Elephants use this corridor to access the Suvarnavati Reservoir. The corridor lies between the villages of Talavadi and Muddahalli.

THREATS: Forest Department's plantation within the fenced plots, frequent fire set during NTFP collection, fuelwood collection and cattle grazing.

CONSERVATION PLAN: 1. Declaration, demarcation and legal protection of the corridor under laws appropriate for the state, 2. Removal of the fences of Forest Department plantation, 3. Survey of land between Kumbesvaran Kovil and Banavadi for potential acquisition.

KANIYANPURA-MOYAR, KARNATAKA

This corridor maintains the contiguity of habitat within the Bandipur National Park along its border with the Satyamangalam Forest Division. The narrow corridor is bordered on one side by an elephant proof trench and on the other by the steep slopes of the Moyar gorge.

THREATS: Cattle grazing and fuelwood collection.

CONSERVATION PLAN: 1. Declaration, demarcation and legal protection of the corridor under laws appropriate for the state, 2. Monitoring the already acquired corridor for encroachment, 3. Reducing habitat disturbances caused by cattle grazing and fuelwood collection.

REMARKS: This was initially a narrow corridor of about 0.1 km. width. The Karnataka Forest Department, with the financial assistance of the Directorate of Project Elephant, has acquired the adjacent revenue land and annexed it to the Reserve Forest to widen the corridor near Karragihundi village.

MOYAR-A RAHALLA, TAMIL NADU

The corridor is located between the Moyar and Masinagudi villages and maintains habitat connectivity within the Mudumalai Wildlife Sanctuary. A flume channel of a hydroelectric project passes through the corridor. The constriction is along the width due to the expansion of the Moyar and Masinagudi villages.

THREATS: Proposed widening of the flume channel by the Tamil Nadu Electricity Board, cattle grazing and firewood collection and vehicular traffic on the Masinagudi-Moyar road.

CONSERVATION PLAN: 1. Declaration, demarcation and legal protection of the corridor under laws appropriate for the state, 2. Monitoring of the proposed widening of the flume channel and other developmental activities of the Pykara Ultimate Stage Hydroelectric Project.

KALMALAI-SINGARA AND AVARAHALLA, TAMIL NADU

This corridor lies between the villages of Singara and Masinagudi on the northern slopes of the Nilgiri Hills. It comprises forests on either side of a road connecting these two villages. Approximately 50 m. of this forest on either side of the road is privately owned. The corridor is extensively used by elephants, which seasonally move from the Mudumalai Wildlife Sanctuary to the Nilgiri North Division. As movement is not possible along the Nilgiri slopes (due to Penstock pipes of a hydroelectric project between Glenmorgan and Singara), this corridor is of great significance.

THREATS: Development activities of the Pykara Ultimate Stage Hydroelectric Project (PUSHEP), settlements and impact of resorts.

CONSERVATION PLAN: 1. Declaration, demarcation and legal protection of the corridor under laws appropriate for the state, 2. Acquisition of private land in and around the corridor.

ANAIMALAI AT PUNACHI, TAMIL NADU

This corridor is the northernmost of three corridors that link habitats in the Indira Gandhi Wildlife Sanctuary. The corridor lies along steep hill slopes and is used by elephants to move across wetter and drier habitats. The corridor has undisturbed forest cover.

THREATS: Vehicular movement on the Valparai-Pollachi road.

CONSERVATION PLAN: 1. Declaration, demarcation and legal protection of the corridor under laws appropriate for the state, 2. Detailed ground survey on the legal status of the corridor areas between stone quarry along the Attakati-Upper Aliyar road and a pump house near Waterfalls Estate, 3. Regulation of traffic along the Valparai-Pollachi road.

Map of identified corridors across the elephant's range in India. Though reasonably detailed surveys of elephant distribution in the south and the north have been achieved, more information on habitat status to identify and evaluate the viability of many corridor-like situations in the east-central and northeastern regions is required.ANAIMALAI AT WATERFALLS ESTATE, TAMIL NADU

This is the second corridor that links habitats in the Indira Gandhi Wildlife Sanctuary. This one also lies along steep hill slopes and is used by elephants to move across wetter and drier habitats. This corridor consists of a narrow strip of forest and private lands.

THREATS: Vehicular movement along the Pollachi-Valparai road.

CONSERVATION PLAN: 1. Declaration, demarcation and legal protection of the corridor under laws appropriate for the state, 2. Regulation of night traffic along the Pollachi-Valparai road, 3. Detailed survey on the status of corridor land near Karuka. This area is located between Mount Stuart and Waterfalls Estates (West).

ANAIMALAI BETWEEN SIUVAIMEDU-KADAMPARAI, TAMIL NADU

This is the third corridor that links habitats in the Indira Gandhi Wildlife Sanctuary. Like the other two, this corridor too lies along steep hill slopes and is used by elephants to move across from wetter to drier habitats.

THREATS: Frequent vehicular movement along the Pollachi-Valparai road.

CONSERVATION PLAN: 1. Declaration, demarcation and legal protection of the corridor under laws appropriate for the state, 2. Regulation of night traffic along the Pollachi-Valparai road.

 
 
 

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Gaurav T. Shirodkar

March 11, 2015, 10:46 PM
 Very Informative article. Gives a nice overview on the Jumbo movement in the country.