October 21, 2016
With the casualties in the human-elephant conflict increasing countrywide, CEO of Wildlife Trust of India Vivek Menon said that the situation can be better handled by understanding elephants better.
Delivering his address on “conserving elephants amongst a billion people” at a joint programme of the Silver Jubilee Year Celebration of the Salim Ali Centre for Ornithology and Natural History (SACON) and Visioning India of Coimbatore Chapter of Young Indian on Friday, Vivek added that a good understanding of the animals could help retrieve elephant corridors.
“We have identified around 101 elephant corridors in the country. This was done by relocating people in needed areas and joining the gaps encroached by humans. If the government comes forward to work for the cause, more gaps can be filled,” he said.
He opined that rather than trying to stop the movement of elephants using traditional methods like creating trenches and fences, which have not proved fruitful always, elephants should be given space to move freely. “When we start encroaching on their land, they will start finding new lands and it will result in the conflict intensifying,” said Vivek. He also added that safeguarding grasslands was also important in elephant conservation as elephants largely fed on grass, along with other trees and plants.
The wildlife conservationist said that the incidence of animals killed by trains can be brought down through measures like creating underpasses, overpasses and redirecting the elephants from sharp curves using fences could help reduce fatalities. However, the Indian Railways has failed to implement any effective measures to bring down fatalities, he noted.
Claiming that elephant calves were getting displaced because of human interventions, he suggested that calves should be reunited with its mother at all costs.
Despite a good increase in the number of elephants in southern Asia, Vivek pointed out that poaching has declined elephant population by 80 per cent in east Asia, leaving the Asiatic elephants endangered in all the 13 countries they are present. He added that culling animals should never be thought as a means of eradicating elephant menace.