Context:

The Chhattisgarh government has proposed to reduce the area of Lemru Elephant Reserve from 1,995 sq km to 450 sq km.

Relevance:

Prelims, GS-III: Environment and Ecology (Important Protected Areas, Conservation of Biodiversity)

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. What is Lemru Elephant Reserve?
  2. Significance of Reserve
  3. What is Project Elephant?

What is Lemru Elephant Reserve?

  • The Lemru Elephant Reserve is located in the Korba district of Chhattisgarh and aims at reducing human-animal conflict and destruction of property in addition to providing a permanent habitat to the elephants.
  • The Centre gave its approval in 2007 for the creation of the 450 sq km Lemru Elephant Reserve and in 2019, the state government decided to increase the area to 1,995 sq km.
  • Earlier, the state government notified the reserve (Conservation Reserve) in 2020 under the Wild Life (Protection) Act, 1972 (WLPA). The WLPA has a special provision that gives the Union government a say in the process of notification in case the land to be notified as conservation reserve has areas belonging to the Centre.
  • The area proposed under the reserve is part of the Hasdeo Aranya forests, a very diverse biozone that is also rich in coal deposits.
  • The biggest challenge in increasing the reserve area was that several coal mines would become unusable.

Significance of Reserve

  • North Chhattisgarh alone is home to over 240 elephants. More than 150 elephants have died in the state over the last 20 years, including 16 between June and October 2020.
  • Elephants in Chhattisgarh are relatively new; they started moving into undivided Madhya Pradesh (MP) in 1990.
  • While MP had a policy of pushing back the animals coming from Jharkhand, after Chhattisgarh was formed, the lack of a formal policy allowed elephants to use as a corridor a route in the north and central parts of the state.
  • Since these animals were relatively new, human-animal conflict started once elephants started straying into inhabited areas, looking for food.

What is Project Elephant?

  • Project Elephant is a Central Government sponsored scheme launched in February 1992.
  • Through the Project Elephant scheme, the government helps in the protection and management of elephants to the states having wild elephants in a free-ranging population.
  • It ensures the protection of elephant corridors and elephant habitat for the survival of the elephant population in the wild.
  • This elephant conservation strategy is mainly implemented in 16 of 28 states or union territories in the country which includes Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, Andhra Pradesh, Chhattisgarh Jharkhand, Kerala, Karnataka, Meghalaya, Maharashtra, Nagaland, Orissa, Tamil Nadu, Uttaranchal, Uttar Pradesh, and West Bengal.
  • The union government provides technical and financial help to these states to carry out and achieve the goals of project elephant. Not just that, assistance for the purpose of the census, training of field officials is also provided to ensure the mitigation and prevention of man-elephant conflict.

-Source: Indian Express

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