Tamil Nadu

Study shows 18 elephant migratory paths

Jumbo trail: Most migratory routes are in foothill forests and slopes. File photo  

A study has identified 18 inter-State migratory routes that elephants take to move between the Coimbatore and Mannarkkad Forest Divisions of Tamil Nadu and Kerala.

Elephant expert and biologist N. Sivaganesan, who was engaged by the Coimbatore Forest Division for the study, found that the availability of perennial sources of water and intact forest tracts greatly influenced the elephants’ choice of migratory routes.

Crucial unit

The 18 routes, located in the 720-square kilometre area of the Coimbatore Forest Division, form a crucial conservation unit which comes under the Nilambur-Coimbatore Elephant Reserve of the Brahmagiri-Nilgiri-Eastern Ghats Elephant Landscape. “These 18 routes are important for the conservation of elephants in the long run. They are ecologically important as they ensure fodder, water and shelter. Protecting the migratory paths is important for ensuring the genetic diversity of elephants,” Mr. Sivaganesan said.

The rapid study indicated that the elephant population from Walayar in Palakkad district can migrate up to the water-spread areas of the Bhavanisagar reservoir in Coimbatore and Erode districts by using the forest connectivity.

The findings showed that most of the migratory routes were in the foothill forests and the gentle slopes, and that animals avoided hilly tracts. Though most of the routes were found bisecting highways, elephants migrated to their destinations in accordance with the seasons.

“The main objectives of the study were to identify and document the elephant transit routes in the Coimbatore Forest Division, understand the ecological health of the routes and identify steps to be taken for keeping them free of hindrances. It also helps in understanding the priority habitat accessed by the elephants and how the human-elephant conflict is linked to these routes,” said D. Venkatesh, District Forest Officer, Coimbatore Forest Division.

The study will also help the Forest Department design a framework to undertake camera trap studies for better understanding of elephants in terms of age, sex and movement dynamics in the Nilambur-Coimbatore Elephant Reserve.

“There is a need to conserve the migratory routes in future to address the human-animal conflict with the participation of all other inter-governmental institutions and with new policies by the Forest Department. This first part of the study is with respect to transit paths between the Mannarkkad and Coimbatore Forest Divisions. A similar study will be conducted to identify the paths between the Coimbatore and Palakkad Divisions. The data will be shared with the Mannarkkad Division,” said I. Anwardeen, Additional Principal Chief Conservator of Forests (Coimbatore Circle).

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Printable version | Sep 26, 2021 1:15:33 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/tamil-nadu/study-shows-18-elephant-migratory-paths/article35354382.ece

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