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About Asian Elephant

Context:

Asian elephant has lost most of its optimal habitat in Nilgiri Reserve.

Relevance:

GS II- Environment and Ecology

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. Asian Elephants
  2. African Elephants
  3. Threats
  4. What is Project Elephant?
  5. Nilgiri Biosphere Reserve

Asian Elephants:

  • The Asian elephant is divided into three subspecies: Indian, Sumatran, and Sri Lankan.
  • The Indian subspecies has the largest territory and is home to the majority of the continent’s remaining elephants.
  • The eldest and largest female elephant in the herd is in charge (known as the matriarch). The matriarch’s daughters and their children make up this herd.
  • Elephants have the longest known gestation period of any mammal, extending up to 680 days (22 months).
Protection Status:
  • IUCN Red List: Endangered.
  • Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972: Schedule I.
  • CITES: Appendix I

African Elephants:

The Savanna (or bush) elephant and the Forest elephant are two subspecies of African elephants.

Protection Status:

IUCN Red List Status:

  • African Savanna Elephant: Endangered.
  • African Forest Elephant: Critically Endangered
  • CITES: Appendix II
Threats:
  • Escalation of poaching.
  • Habitat loss.
  • Human-elephant conflict.
  • Mistreatment in captivity.
  • Abuse due to elephant tourism.
  • Rampant mining, Corridor destruction.

Human-Elephant Conflicts

  • Elephant-human conflict is a result of habitat loss and fragmentation.
  • When elephants and humans interact, there is conflict from crop raiding, injuries and deaths to humans caused by elephants, and elephants being killed by humans for reasons other than ivory and habitat degradation.
  • Such encounters foster resentment against the elephants amongst the human population and this can result in elephants being viewed as a nuisance and killed.
  • In addition to the direct conflicts between humans and elephants, elephants also suffer indirect costs like degradation of habitat and loss of food plants.

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.

Nilgiri Biosphere Reserve: 

  • The Nilgiri Biosphere Reserve, which is stretched over three states, is India’s largest protected forest region. Specifically, Kerala, Karnataka, and Tamil Nadu.
  • The Western Ghats, which include the Nilgiri Sub-Cluster, was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2012.
  • The Nilgiri Biosphere Reserve is home to over 80% of the flowering species from the Western Ghats that have been identified.
Flora and Fauna:
  • Flora: It hosts forest systems, ranging from seasonal rain forests in the low hills, tropical montane Shola forests and grasslands in the higher reaches, and moist deciduous to scrub through dry-deciduous towards the plains in the Eastern end.
    • Endemic Flora: Vanda, Liparis, Bulbophyllum, Spiranthes, Thrixspermum 
  • Fauna: Important faunal elements include Tiger, Elephant, Gaur, Lion tail macaque, Cheethal, Sambar, Wild Boar, Barking deer, Nilgiri Tahr, etc. 
Hills and Wildlife Sanctuaries:  
  • The reserve includes the Aralam, Mudumalai, Mukurthi, Nagarhole, Bandipur, and Silent Valley national parks.  
  • Similarly,  the reserve also includes the Wayanad, Karimpuzha, and Sathyamangam wildlife sanctuaries. 
  • It has the Nilgiri Hills on its southwestern side and the Moyar River Valley on its north-eastern side. The elephants cross the plateau in search of food and water. 

February 2023
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