Dr Prajna Panda of the Ministry's Project Elephant said that the lists of elephant corridors prepared by the centre and state governments do not match and the move is aimed at finalising a comprehensive list of elephant corridors in the country.
With an increase in the number of human-elephant incidents, the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change has begun the crucial task of identifying and securing the elephant corridors in the country. The elephant corridors are nothing but the safe passage facilitated for the species to seamlessly cross between from one of their habitats to another. The Environment ministry is also expected to notify these Elephant corridors after they have been identified so as to give the movement of elephants legal protection, the Indian Express reported.
Minister Bhupender Yadav was quoted as saying that the ministry has embarked on the exercise of identifying the corridors which the species regularly use and also begun working on mapping the land use and land cover of elephant reserves in the country using GIS technology. Experts that the Indian Express talked to said that the elephant corridors keep evolving with the passage of time. In the 2005 exercise conducted by the Ministry and Wildlife Trust of India (WTI), the officials had identified a total of 88 elephant corridors which increased to 101 in the exercise conducted two years back.
Dr Sandeep Kumar Tiwari, Deputy Chief of Conservation at WTI told the Indian Express that the corridors have increased due to the fragmentation of the existing corridors. Tiwari explained that as elephants found problems in traversing their existing corridors, the species began passing through new routes leading to an increase in the number of corridors. He also said that over the last decade, a total of seven elephant corridors have completely disappeared due to fragmentation because of which the species have stopped using the corridor completely.
Among the most probable causes of fragmentation, Dr Tiwari included linear infrastructure projects like roads and railways or land use changes including agriculture and plantation. As to why the Ministry is embarking on another identification exercise afresh, Dr Prajna Panda of the Ministry’s Project Elephant told the Indian Express that the lists of elephant corridors prepared by the central and state governments do not match and the move is aimed at finalising a comprehensive and uniform list of elephant corridors in the country.
The latest identification of elephant corridors will be undertaken in four elephant rich divisions in the country namely North-East, South, East Central and North-West regions. Dr Tiwari said that one of the major aims of the current exercise will be looking at the land use in identified elephant corridors closely. He said that while lots of corridors already had human habitation to a large extent, in many corridors new habitation had taken place. Summing up the chief aim of the current exercise, he added that once the corridors have been given legal protection no human habitation will be allowed to encroach upon the elephant corridors.