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Project Elephant

Context:

At the 16th Steering Committee meeting of Project Elephant, the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change launched a field manual named-Field Manual for Managing Human-Elephant Conflicts (HEC) in India-to guide forest staffers dealing with HEC in major elephant range states.

Relevance:

GS III- Environment and Ecology

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. Details about the manual
  2. Current Elephant Population in India
  3. Asian Elephants
  4. African Elephants
  5. Threats
  6. What is Project Elephant?
  7. Way Forwards to prevent Man – Animal Conflicts

Details about the manual:

  • The ministry collaborated on the manual with the Wildlife Institute of India (WWI) and the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF India).
  • It outlines the best techniques for reducing human-elephant conflict in great detail.
  • It is written with the goal of providing forest officials/departments, as well as other stakeholders, with direction on how to help mitigate Human Elephant Conflict, both in emergencies and when it is a regular issue.

Current Elephant Population in India:

  • India has roughly 27,000 Asian Elephants, making it the world’s largest population of the species.
  • According to the Elephant Census (2017), Karnataka has the most elephants (6,049), followed by Assam (5,719) and Kerala (5,719). (3,054).

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.

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: Down to Earth

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