Most elephant corridors in State are under threat, say experts

Development activities, human settlements narrowing pathways
Last Updated : 24 May 2012, 19:52 IST
Last Updated : 24 May 2012, 19:52 IST

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Most of the elephant migratory corridors in the State are under threat, experts have found, even as the High Court’s June deadline for the government to submit a report on man-elephant conflict in Hassan and Kodagu is fast approaching.

The State has five significant elephant corridors.

With the national elephant census getting underway on Tuesday, experts at the Asian Nature Conservation Foundation (ANCF) and the Indian Institute of Science (IISc) emphasise on the need for immediate restoration of elephant corridors to prevent aggravation of the human-elephant conflict.

Dr Raman Sukumar, pachydermist and professor, IISc, said the corridor restoration needs to be taken up on a war-footing in the interests of conservation, as almost all corridors in the State - except the Edayaralli-Doddasampige corridor which was revived recently - have narrowed due to various reasons.

Sukumar - who along with researchers Surendra Varma, Arun Venkataraman and P S Easa has identified 20 corridors in South India - says 77.33 per cent of the corridors are regularly used by elephants to migrate from one habitat to another.

Varma said, “The corridors in the State are prone to development activities like laying of railway lines, road networks, construction of schools, buildings, resorts and tower lines. Besides, there is pressure from villages dependent on forests along the corridors.”

Restoration needed

The Thalli-Tanda corridor, also known as Chattiramdoddi-Hunasanahalli corridor, connects the Bannerghatta National Park, Kanakapura range and the northern part of Hosur forest division.

The restoration is necessary in the Hosur division to help elephants move back into the Karnataka forests. The Tirunelli-Kudrakote (Brahmagiri-Tirunelli), the longest corridor in the region with a length of six km and a width of 1.5 km, connects the elephant habitats of the north of Karnataka along the Brahmagiri Hills through the northern Wayanad region of Kerala.

“The southern tip of the Brahmagiri extends into Wayanad north forest division, where the Tirunelli Reserve Forest and Kudrakote Reserve Forest provide a narrow eastward connection to the Tholpetty Range of Wayanad Wildlife Sanctuary. This is an important corridor to maintain habitat contiguity for the elephant population along the Brahmagiri Hills,” explained Varma.

But “settlements, agriculture activities, extraction of timber and vehicular movement along the Tirunelli temple road are major threats here,” he said.

The Chamarajanagar-Talamalai corridor, known as Punjur-Kolipalya corridor, which connects the Chamarajanagar and Satyamangalam forest divisions at Punjur, has been an obstruction for the movement of elephants, as tribals from the Biligiri Rangana Temple Hills were rehabilitated in this corridor and the forest was cleared for cultivation in 1990.

“To the east of the Punjur valley, there is insignificant movement along the steep hill slopes, while to the west of Kolipalya, there are human settlements and cultivation,” said Sukumar.

With the corridors regularly used by bulls (male elephants), their restoration, according to Sukumar, is significant as it could be done by exploring possibilities of voluntary rehabilitation of the tribals.

The Karadikal-Madeshwara corridor or the Ragihalli elephant corridor at Bannerghatta with a width of just 0.4 km and a length of one km is facing threats due to illegal granite quarrying.

Even the Edayarahalli-Doddasampige (Bekkatur-Arabikere, Kollegal corridor) in Biligiri Rangana Temple Hills Wildlife Sanctuary is facing threats due to human settlements. But the silver lining is that it has been restored with the help of the Wildlife Trust of India.

However, experts say it can be further strengthened by including some of the land under cultivation.

Published 24 May 2012, 19:52 IST

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