Why in news ?1) Recently, the National Green Tribunal (NGT) has directed the Odisha government to prepare an action plan for 14 identified elephant corridors in the state.
2) According to MoEFCC - a total of 186 elephants were killed after being hit by trains across India between 2009-10 and 2020-21. Assam accounted for the highest number of elephant casualties on railway tracks (62), followed by West Bengal (57), and Odisha (27).
Elephant CorridorsElephant Corridors are narrow strips of land that connect two large habitats of elephants. These corridors are crucial to reduce animal fatalities due to accidents and other reasons.
88 elephant corridors have been identified by the wildlife trust of India under the National elephant Corridor project.
Nearly 40% of elephant reserves are vulnerable, as they are not within protected parks and sanctuaries. Also, migration corridors have no specific legal protection.
ElephantIndia is home to 50% of the Asian Elephant population, and according to the 2017 elephant census, there are 27,312 elephants in the country, marking a decrease of nearly 3,000 elephants from the 2012 census.
There are three subspecies of Asian elephant - the Indian, Sumatran, and Sri Lankan, and two subspecies of African elephants, the Savanna (or bush) elephant and the Forest elephant.
African elephants have larger ears and concave backs, whereas Asian elephants have smaller ears, and convex or level backs.
Elephants are scattered throughout sub-Saharan Africa, South Asia, and Southeast Asia and are found in different habitats, including savannahs, forests, deserts, and marshes.
Elephants can live up to 70 years in the wild.
Project ElephantProject Elephant is a centrally sponsored scheme which was launched in 1992. It aims to protect elephants, their habitat & corridors by addressing issues of man-animal conflict and Welfare of captive elephants.
Project Elephant provides financial support to 16 major elephant bearing States in the country.
The Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change provides the financial and technical support to major elephant range states in the country through Project Elephant.
Elephant censusElephant census, is conducted once in 5 years under the aegis of Project elephant. According to elephants census 2017: Karnataka has the highest number of elephants (6,049), followed by Assam (5,719) and Kerala (3,054).
Elephant ConservationOne of the biggest threats to elephant populations is the ivory trade, as the animals are poached for their ivory tusks. Other threats to wild elephants include habitat destruction and conflicts with local people.
Conservation Status of Asian Elephants:
Wildlife Protection Act, 1972: Schedule I
IUCN Red List: Endangered
CITES: Appendix I
Gaj Yatra is a nationwide campaign to protect elephants, launched on the occasion of World Elephant Day (12 August) in 2017.
Forest Conservation Act 1980 was enacted by Parliament of India to control further deforestation of Forest Areas in India.
Indian Forest Act 1927 sought to consolidate and reserve the areas having forest cover, or significant wildlife, to regulate movement and transit of forest produce, and duty leviable on timber and other forest produce.
It also defines the procedure to be followed for declaring an area to be a Reserved Forest, a Protected Forest or a Village Forest. It defines what is a forest offence, what are the acts prohibited inside a Reserved Forest, and penalties leviable on violation of the provisions of the Act.
There are two subspecies of African elephants, the Savanna (or bush) elephant and the Forest elephant.
Asian Elephants: Endangered
African bush elephants: Endangered
African forest elephants: Critically Endangered
Earlier in July 2020, Botswana (Africa) witnessed the death of hundreds of elephants.