Capture of Coimbatore’s Crop-eating, Peaceful Elephant, Chinna Thambi

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Chinna Thambi, a 25-year old tusker from the Anaikatti region in Coimbatore, Tamil Nadu, was relocated to Anamalai Tiger Reserve on 26th January, 2018. This was done following repeated complaints by a section of farmers from the region that the elephant was raiding crops and breaking into houses for food. These agricultural lands are adjacent to Thadagam Reserve Forest and Anaikatti South Reserve Forest of Coimbatore Forest Division. Perhaps because this particular bull had never attacked anyone, the indigenous community … Read More

A Conflict Tale from Valparai, Tamil Nadu

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On 26th August, 2017, we were roaming around Valparai looking for wildlife, we came across an incidence of Human-Elephant conflict. We could sense some commotion near the sheds of some estate workers, and saw people running here and there. Upon checking, we heard that a female elephant had entered the premises of one of the workers and was polishing off a plantain tree.

There appeared to be two groups of people at the scene – one, consisting mostly of youth, … Read More

Addressing the Elephant in South Bengal

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Harvest season has ceased to be a time of festivities for the rice-growing farming communities living in West Midnapore, Bankura and Purulia districts of South Bengal. Due to their geographical location adjoining the dense forests of Jharkhand and Odisha, these districts attract herds of elephants that migrate during this season to raid crops after nightfall. These incidents threaten both life and livelihood. According to S. Kulandaivel, Deputy Conservator of Forests, Urban Recreation Forestry Division and a former Divisional Forest Officer, … Read More

Sharing Space with Big Cats and Elephants — Lessons from Tea Gardens of North Bengal

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This article originally appeared in the Last Wilderness on 7th July 2016.

The morning siren at a tea estate factory ushers in a new day in the life of a tea garden worker in the duars region of northern West Bengal. The term ‘duar’ means gateway since this landscape is the foothills or the gateway to the ‘Himalayas’. Historically, the region comprised of prime moist deciduous and semi-evergreen forests in a Bombax (Silk Cotton) and Shorea (Sal) dominated forests. In … Read More

Wild Seve — Empowering People and Fostering Tolerance for Wildlife

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India’s Bandipur and Nagarahole National Parks are home to the highest densities of tigers, leopards and elephants globally. People living adjacent to these parks frequently experience crop and property damage, livestock predation and occasionally are injured or killed. As a result, the traditional tolerance that rural communities of India have for wildlife can get eroded due to continued financial losses they incur.

Wild Seve is a novel conservation initiative developed by WCS Scientist Dr. Krithi Karanth in collaboration with the … Read More

Tragic Loss of a Tusker, Kaziranga

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On September 4th 2015, a bull elephant that was part of a larger herd was electrocuted when it walked into a live, low-hanging power cable at the Kaziranga National Park in Assam. The herd was trying to reach higher ground in order to escape from floods that had inundated over 80% of the park.

Wildlife photographer Sandesh Kadur, who was in Kaziranga at the time, recounted details of the accident. Years of waterlogging had eroded the base of the electric … Read More

Inviolate Spaces Act as Refugia for Conflict Prone Asiatic Elephant

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Authors Varun R. Goswami, Divya Vasudev and Madan K. Oli use population modeling to demonstrate the detrimental effects of mortality resulting from human–wildlife conflict on long-term persistence of the endangered Asian elephant. Below are the highlights of their study, “The importance of conflict-induced mortality for conservation planning in areas of human–elephant co-occurrence” published in Biological Conservation (Volume 176) in 2014.

A long-standing debate in wildlife conservation is whether we need inviolate spaces, or spaces devoid of human presence, for long-term … Read More

Conserving Species in Landscapes Requires Holistic Planning

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Today, a number of endangered species persist in fragmented landscapes. These landscapes house pristine forests (or other habitat), alongside degraded forests, agricultural lands, plantations, settlements and other lands under different forms of human use. These lands can range from the more ‘wildlife-friendly’ coffee plantations, to open lands or human settlements that are relatively less used by wildlife.

Protection of species and habitat within reserves is without doubt a cornerstone of conservation. But when zooming out to landscapes, conservation challenges, as … Read More

Small Dams, Big Problems – Join the Campaign

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Small hydropower projects (SHPs) or mini hydels are propagated as an environmentally friendly and socially beneficial option to meet our rising energy demands. Hence, according to the EIA notification, SHPs (capacity not more than 25MW) do not require an environmental clearance, and are legally exempt from environmental impact assessments and public hearing in India. In fact, the government usually grants substantial subsidies and financial incentives to such ‘green initiatives’. However, this notion of SHPs having minimal or no adverse impacts … Read More

The Elephant Conflict Story from the Terai Region, West Bengal

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The conflict between humans and elephants is turning very grave, with many human and elephant casualties (numbers can be as high as 50-100/year both sides), and severe crop damage. The situation worsens with fragmented corridors on their migration routes and continuous denudation of forest patches. The added issue of the 17-km long fencing along the Nepal border cuts off their traditional migration routes, pushing them into small forest patches and adjoining forest lands (Terai).

A few days back I witnessed … Read More

Elephants in Chandaka — Banished From Their Homes

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With inputs from Aditya Panda.

(This article was first published in The Pioneer dated Aug 29, 2012 under the title ‘Banished from their homes’).

In 1967, a wild tigress from the Chandaka forest on the outskirts of Bhubaneswar walked into the Nandankanan Zoo nearby, lured by the calls of a male tiger in one of the moated exhibits, and jumped in to join him, surely unaware that there was no way out. The tigress –– later named ‘Kanan’ –– lived … Read More

Science-based Approach to Promote Human-Elephant Coexistence — Lessons from Valparai

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Understanding human-elephant interactions is critical for conservation of elephants outside Protected Areas. One of the intriguing questions is how can a person weighing 50kg and a 5000kg animal coexist with no barrier between them?

Conflict incidents frequently lead to use of reactive measures such as chasing elephants, capture and translocation, or retaliatory persecution, but these often fail to resolve conflicts on a sustained basis, empower communities to implement solutions, or help conservation of elephants. Long-term research on behavioural and ecological … Read More

Intruding the personal space of elephants, Bandipur

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We were driving back to Bangalore on 10th March 2013. That weekend saw an extraordinary rush to Bandipur, Mudumalai and Ooty. There were a lot of places on the Bandipur – Mudumalai (NH 67) highway where people were stopping to see wildlife. After we crossed the Kakkanhalla checkpost, we saw a car (Xylo) stop; two people casually got out, walked towards this pair of elephants and started taking pictures. I shot a video anticipating a charge, but the truck scared … Read More

Elephant Rescue, Valparai

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It was that time of the year again, when elephants slowly started marking their presence. Like every year, there were incidents of households getting hit here and there, thankfully, nothing major though. What is always interesting to note every year is the consistency they maintain in terms of their movement patterns, and also in the damage sites they choose! Early that morning I decided to take off from my daily routine in front of my Macbook’s hypnotizing screen. I went … Read More

Elephant Conflict, Odisha

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Human-elephant conflict is turning increasingly acute across elephant range in India. Relentless diversion of elephant habitats, loss of forest corridors that offer safe passage to migrating elephants, activities such as mining, construction of canals, railway tracks and highways that fragment forests, and even the ill-designed plantation of unpalatable trees in natural forests are together creating a deadly situation where direct, extremely volatile face offs between people and elephants have become a matter of routine. The loss of human life and … Read More

Human-Elephant Conflict, Coimbatore

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Though an old picture (taken in 2012), this image shows the rise of Human-Elephant Conflict (HEC) in the The Thadagam valley of Coimbatore. This area has become a major centre for brick production and the numerous brick kilns have drastically altered the landscape and interfered with the animal movement in the area. The outskirts of Coimbatore have served as traditional elephant migratory corridors connecting the various major forested regions of the Western and Eastern Ghats.

These two tuskers were standing … Read More

Human-Elephant Conflict, Corbett Tiger Reserve

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The Sunderkhal village falls in the crucial Kosi river corridor linking Corbett Tiger Reserve to the Ramnagar Forest Division. This landscape constitutes prime tiger and elephant habitat. A population estimation exercise done jointly by the state forest department and WWF-India revealed no less than 13 individual tigers — including breeding tigresses. The All India Tiger Estimate 2010 indicated a density of 14 tigers / 100 sq km in Ramanagar forest division.

Here is a stray tusker being driven away by … Read More

Living with Elephants, Valparai, Tamil Nadu

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In the human-dominated landscape of the Valparai plateau, abutting the Anamalai Tiger Reserve in Tamil Nadu, this is the peak annual elephant movement period, which lasts till the end of February. Given the mosaic of landscapes the herds have to navigate, they encounter curious onlookers, passing tourists and heavy vehicle movement. The elephants normally choose to move once human activities reduce after sundown.

This herd had a hard time traversing through tea estates interspersed with degraded forest patches because of … Read More

Dangers to Wildlife due to Railway Tracks

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The laying of railway tracks is considered crucial to the economic development of a region, and has for the past several centuries been actively encouraged. Being human-centric, political thought has always considered the felling of forests, and clearing of lands to lay railway lines. Technology improvements that allow for ecological considerations are not implemented, and less-than-ideal practices are often followed to this day. In this regard, even the widening of the track gauges can have an adverse effect on ecology.… Read More

Manual Review — ‘Monitoring Elephant Populations and Assessing Threats’ (edited by Simon Hedges)

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Monitoring Elephants the right way: A Synopsis of the Manual titled ‘Monitoring Elephant Populations and Assessing Threats’.

Elephants are social, group living mammals revered by people across diverse cultures in the world. Once widely distributed across a range of ecological conditions, currently distribution and abundance of elephants have both dwindled drastically throughout its range due to habitat loss, fragmentation and poaching. India holds the largest population of Asian elephants surviving today.

In spite of its conservation significance, elephant populations across … Read More

Palamu’s Killer Tracks

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One of the biggest threats to the wildlife of Palamu Tiger Reserve (PTR), spread over an area of 1130 sq.kms in West-Central Jharkhand, has been the New Delhi-Ranchi Railway line that slices through the Tiger Reserve’s core ranges of East & West Chhipadohar over a distance of 8 kms. About 70 trains — both passenger and freight — ply on this busy rail route everyday (these lines have been in existence before Palamu’s notification as a Tiger Reserve in 1973). … Read More

Elephant Taunting – A Despicable Spectator Sport in Coimbatore Forests

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Editor’s note: This report exposes a serious problem that needs urgent resolution. CI requests journalists to highlight this issue so that the authorities put strong measures in place to stop it. We request all conservationists and conservation NGOs in Coimbatore to join hands to help the Forest Department in solving this problem urgently.

Coimbatore, often referred to as the Manchester of South India, harbours hundreds of factories and multinational companies, which need land and other resources. Despite this, the … Read More

Elephants Attempting to Cross Elephant Proof Trench

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This was photographed in the Chikkadevama hill, near Saragur, H D Kote Taluk, near Mysore. Here elephants are trying to cross an Elephant Proof Trench (EPT), so that they can raid adjacent crop fields. With most of their habitat deforested, and their corridors interrupted by human encroachments, it is no wonder that they are forced to raid crops.… Read More

Living with Elephants

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This was photographed in the Chikkadevama Hill, near Saragur, H D Kote taluk, Mysore. Adjoining this hill, there is a village called Lanke, where conflicts with elephants are frequent. During the crop season, many elephants cross the scrub jungle late in the evening and return back to forest in the early morning hours. This photograph clearly shows a villager trying to drive a group of elephants back to the jungle.

When one talks to the forest department people here, one … Read More

Q: We live in a small village, Thekambattu, near Salem in Tamil Nadu. Recently we had elephants near us for the first time in living memory of the oldest inhabitants here. We are glad to see your site because it is perhaps what would have helped us at that time. Anyway, the elephants seem to be wandering; so perhaps this is not the last we see of them. We need to know what can be done here as and when they show up without any resources, trained manpower etc. There has to be something like an Elephant Rescue team on call in the country at different places, I guess…

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Answer from Shekar Dattatri, Conservation India:

The problem you describe in your question – and in more much more detail in your blog – is an extremely difficult one to tackle. Although you yourself seem to have analyzed the various dimensions to this dilemma, and may not find this answer very useful, we are posting it here for the benefit of other readers, but with this rider. No one from CI has been to the area or studied the … Read More