Living with Elephants, Valparai, Tamil Nadu

Ganesh Raghunathan & Sreedhar Vijayakrishnan

Sreedhar Vijayakrishnan

Chosen as 'Picture of the Week'

Migratory paths used by countless generations of elephants have now turned into an obstacle course, with roads, traffic, onlookers and buildings blocking the way. Long-term conflict mitigation plans are urgently needed to ensure peace for both elephants and people.

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 the presence of calves. It took an entire day’s relentless effort by the Tamil Nadu Forest department staff and the Nature Conservation Foundation (NCF) team to facilitate the movement of the herd from one forest fragment to another, thereby ensuring no human-elephant conflict.

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