Adv. K Raju, the Hon’ble Minister for Forests, Govt. of Kerala, emphasised Right of Passage for elephants during his inaugural address
Thiruvanthapuram, Kerala, January 11: The conservation of elephants is a multi-dimensional issue in India today, with intertwined elements such as habitat degradation, fragmentation of landscapes and increased human-elephant conflict coming to the forefront. At the core of the issue is the availability of habitat – given that elephants, being mega herbivores with large home range and food requirements, have been among the species most affected by habitat alteration and loss of habitat connectivity.
With a focus on the planning and implementation of elephant conservation programmes based on a landscape management approach, the Ministry of Environment, Forest & Climate Change (MoEF & CC) had decided to organise regional technical workshops involving State Forest Departments, Line Departments (National Highways, Railways, Power and Canal) and other major stakeholders to formulate strategies for the protection of elephant habitats. The first such regional workshop, a two-day event, is currently underway at Hotel Apolo Dimora in Thiruvananthapuram.
Adv. K Raju, the Hon’ble Minister for Forests, Govt. of Kerala, said that elephant corridors need to be prioritised to ensure that elephants are given their Right of Passage
Organised under the aegis of the MoEF & CC and the Kerala Forests and Wildlife Department, this ‘Regional Technical Workshop on Elephant Conservation in the South Indian States’ is being conducted in partnership with Wildlife Trust of India (WTI), Wildlife Institute of India (WII), Periyar Tiger Conservation Foundation and WWF-India. Chief Wildlife Wardens of Elephant Range States, senior officers and managers of elephant reserves on South India, and representatives of various developmental agencies and other stakeholders are present.
The workshop was inaugurated this morning by Adv. K Raju, the Hon’ble Minister for Forests, Animal Husbandry and Zoos, Government of Kerala. Mr PK Kesavan, IFS, PCCF (Forest, Land & Resources), Kerala, delivered the welcome address; Dr Anil Kumar Bhardwaj, IFS, Head of Forest Force, PCCF & Chief Wildlife Warden of Kerala outlined the aims of the workshop; and Mr MS Negi, IFS, Addl Director General of Forests, MoEF & CC delivered the keynote address. Dr VB Mathur, Director, WII also addressed the gathering while Mr Noyal Thomas, IFS, Inspector General of Forests (Project Elephant) delivered the vote of thanks.
During his inaugural address Adv. K Raju, the Hon’ble Minister for Forests, underscored the importance of giving Right of Passage to elephants and said that elephant corridors need to be prioritised to ensure the safe passage of elephants. The first technical session, titled ‘Corridors, connectivity and landscape management for elephant conservation’ continued this theme. Dr K Ramkumar, Manager and Project Head of WTI’s South India elephant corridor securement initiatives made a presentation on ‘Status and Conservation Perspectives of Elephant Corridors in Southern India.’
WTI’s Dr K Ramkumar during a technical session on the status of elephant corridors in South India
Of the 101 elephant corridors mapped across India and detailed in the Right of Passage publication produced in 2017 by WTI, Project Elephant and the UK-based NGO Elephant Family, 28 are in South India. Securing right of passage for elephants through elephant corridors in the larger Brahmagiri – Nilgiris – Eastern Ghats landscape has the potential to provide unhindered habitat connectivity for one of the largest Asian elephant populations in the world. WTI has assisted in securing three vital corridors in this landscape under its long-term Right of Passage project, and work to secure another important linkage is currently underway.
The other technical session at the workshop today focused on issues surrounding human-elephant conflict and its management. Sessions being held tomorrow will include habitat management and protection in elephant reserves, and the integration of multiple stakeholders in elephant conservation and management. This will be followed by final discussions and the drafting of resolutions.