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Over 700 elephants died by electrocution: MoEFCC

Context:

A whopping 1,160 elephants were killed in the country due to reasons other than natural causes in the past 10 years up to December 2020, according to the Union Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEFCC).

Relevance:

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

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. Details of information on elephant deaths given in Rajya Sabha
  2. Human-Elephant Conflicts
  3. Steps taken by the MoEFCC for saving Elephants from Trains
  4. What is Project Elephant?
  5. Way Forwards to prevent Man – Animal Conflicts

Details of information on elephant deaths given in Rajya Sabha

  • Electrocution claimed the lives of over 700 elephants. Karnataka and Odisha lost 133 elephants each due to electrocution during the period.
  • Train hits led to the death of more than 180 elephants, this is followed by poaching which caused almost 170 deaths. Out of the 170 elephants killed by poachers in the 10 years and Odisha reported the highest number of deaths, followed by Kerala.
  • Over 60 elephants were killed by poisoning. Assam reported the highest number of elephants poisoned.
  • Among elephant casualties due to train hits, Assam stood first with over 60 deaths.

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.

Steps taken by the MoEFCC for saving Elephants from Trains

  1. The formation of coordination committees of officers of Indian Railways and State Forest Departments;
  2. Clearing of vegetation along railway tracks to enable clear view for loco pilots;
  3. Signage boards at suitable points to alert loco pilots about elephant presence;
  4. Moderating slopes of elevated sections of railway tracks;
  5. Underpass/overpass for safe passage of elephants;
  6. Regulation of train speed from sunset to sunrise in vulnerable stretches;
  7. Regular patrolling of vulnerable stretches of railway tracks by frontline staff of the Forest Department and wildlife watchers.

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.

Way Forwards to prevent Man – Animal Conflicts

  • Surveillance- Increased vigilance and protection of identified locations using hi-tech surveillance tools like sensors can help in tracking the movement of animals and warn the local population.
  • Improvement of habitat- In-situ and ex-situ habitat conservation measures will help in securing animals their survival.
  • Re-locating of animal habitats away from residential and commercial centres will serve to minimize animal-man conflict for illegal and self-interested motives
  • Awareness Programmes- To create awareness among people and sensitize them about the Do’s and Don’ts in the forest areas to minimize the conflicts between man and animal.
  • Training programs- Training to the police offices and local people should be provided for this purpose forest department should frame guidelines.
  • Boundary walls- The construction of boundary walls and solar fences around the sensitive areas to prevent the wild animal attacks.
  • Technical and financial support- For the development of necessary infrastructure and support facilities for immobilization of problematic animals through tranquilization, their translocation.
  • Part of CSR- Safeguarding Tiger corridors, building eco-bridges and such conservation measures can be part of corporate social responsibility.   

-Source: The Hindu

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September 2022
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