Elephant population stable for last 25 years

The elephant population in the State has been stable for the last 25 years contrary to the popular perception that an increase in their numbers had led to rise in human-elephant conflicts in recent years.

Principal Chief Conservator of Forests (PCCF), Head of Forest Forces, Vinay Luthra said that the elephant population in the State was between 4,500 to 6,500 for the last 25 years.

At a workshop on human-elephant conflicts here on Wednesday, Mr. Luthra pointed out that the State population had doubled from 3 crore to 6 crore during the same period and hence it was incorrect to attribute the rise in elephant numbers as the cause for conflict situations.

He said at any given point about 6,000 elephants are in the State forests and research and studies have proved that only about 250 elephants are known to raid crops or stray from their habitat and one of the reasons was the conversion of their ancient habitat to agricultural farms in present times.

He welcomed the idea of evolving a signalling system to alert the local population of the presence of elephants which was suggested by wildlife biologist D. Madhusudhan of Nature Conservation Foundation which had implemented it as part of their research at Valparai in Tamil Nadu.

This was accentuated by fallow lands around elephant reserves being brought under intense cultivation in recent years. Degradation, fragmentation and disturbance of elephant habitat, fencing of large coffee estates and farm lands in the corridors, construction of large dams and disturbance caused by mini-hydels were other factors accentuating the problems, he said.

Ajai Desai, elephant expert, said that when habitat loss, fragmentation and degradation are severe, elephant raid crops because of necessity. But studies show only a few are habitual raiders. He called for greater coordination among different Government departments whose projects may have an impact on wildlife habitat.

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Printable version | Feb 19, 2020 9:29:48 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/karnataka/elephant-population-stable-for-last-25-years/article7585363.ece

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