Understand Jumbos’ Behaviour to Contain Conflict: Expert - The New Indian Express

Understand Jumbos’ Behaviour to Contain Conflict: Expert

Published: 15th December 2013 08:10 AM

Last Updated: 15th December 2013 08:17 AM

The man-elephant conflict is increasing in the State though the forest cover has not changed over the past 30 years.

“The reasons could be several, but it is not the decrease of forest cover,” says Prof Raman Sukumar, Chairman of Centre for Ecological Sciences at the Indian Institute of Science.

He cites the example of a herd of eight elephants at Jawadhi Hills in the Eastern Ghats that lived in a forest area of 4,000 square km, the size of all the national parks in the State put together. Yet, the herd raided crops regularly, lived on the periphery of the forest instead of deep inside. The herd was captured only after 25 years.

He said, “They get better food outside national parks.”

Additional Principal Chief Conservator of Forests (Wildlife) Ajai Mishra says, “We have half of the world’s elephant population. Lots of changes have taken place around elephant areas. Land use patterns have changed as have cropping patterns and farmers grow many crops at the forest periphery and outside it. This tempts the elephants as they find ragi, paddy, sugarcane and jackfruit tasty. A few cities have a national park with a significant elephant population nearby unlike Bangalore. Once we understand the elephants, their habits and nature, the man-elephant conflict can be contained.”

Zone-based                        Approach

A member of the Karnataka Elephant Task Force, Sukumar said the task force has taken a zone-based approach for the management of elephants. There are three zones, each with a different set of conservation objectives and goals. They are:

Elephant Conservation Zone: This would encompass the landscape of the larger and more viable population of wild elephants. Habitat integrity would be maintained through protection of existing corridors.

Elephant-human conflicts can be mitigated through containment of elephants within this natural range using barriers such as high voltage, non-lethal electric fences, elephant-proof trenches and others.

This zone could also include a certain number of human settlements depending on how the boundaries of the zone are drawn.

The contiguous Bandipur-Nagarahole region is one of the most obvious example of the this conservation zone.

Elephant-human Coexistence Zone: Intermediate zones between the larger, integral habitats and small, fragmented forest patches would be regions for implementing the coexistence model through sharing of space between elephants and people.

Elephant Removal Zone:  These would be regions where the elephants would have to be captured from small, isolated patches of forests or human-dominated areas with unacceptably high levels of elephant-human conflicts, and/or the viability of the elephant groups in serious doubt.

The Alur-Arkalgud taluks and the Savandurga region of Tumkur district fall in this category.

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