Right of Passage: Securing Elephant Corridors
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Our objective is to create awareness and solicit support for ensuring secure and safe corridors for the Elephants across the country - Securing Elephant Corridors
We, the teachers and students of The Shriram Millennium School are extremely concerned and troubled by the increasing threat to the habitat and movement of elephants across their natural environment. The unnatural deaths of elephants on highways and railway tracks only highlights that areas earmarked for these animals are just not sufficient and are a cause for concern for the entire populace of our country. We as an individual, a society, a community and a country, need to understand that it is only through an amalgam of all our efforts that we can find a sustainable solution to this grave problem which is becoming an imminent threat to the well being of the entire ecosystem and can be disastrous if not checked immediately.
Despite being a figure of traditional cultural reverence, recognised indeed as the National Heritage Animal, and given the strictest level of protection under the law, the Asian elephants find themselves in a lot of trouble in India today.
The problem is one that affects all wildlife in the country and the natural life cycle of our flora and fauna – which also comes under threat.
The elephant, being a large herbivorous animal, needs vast areas to roam: browsing, foraging, and moving from place to place in search of food and water with the changing seasons. And with the increasing need of urbanisation and industrialisation, these needs of the animal are being compromised to such an extent that the Human-Elephant conflict is a frequent occurrence.
Elephants, forced to range farther and farther afield for food and habitat, come into conflict with humans, who are encroaching on forest areas, planting crops near forest lands, building homes and roads and railways. Human Elephant Conflict is a very serious issue in India today: over 400 humans are killed in encounters with elephants annually, and crops and property worth millions of rupees are damaged. Of course, there are also a large number of elephants killed in turn (about 1500 in the last 15 years - Source WTI Reports) through train-hits, poaching for ivory, poisonings and electrocutions, to satisfy human greed and need for retaliation or just sheer apathy towards the plight of this majestic animal. (http://www.thehindu.com/sci-tech/energy-and-environment/elephant-corridors-in-india-threatened-says-study/article20231670.ece
The result of this damaging human activity is that a large chunk of the country’s elephant habitat is unprotected, susceptible to encroachment or already in use by humans. And while elephant populations are largely concentrated in protected forests in the north-eastern states, east-central India, the Himalayan foothills in the north, and the Western and Eastern Ghats in the south, the animals require free movement between these areas to maintain genetic flow and offset seasonal variations in the availability of forage and water.
That’s why ‘elephant corridors’ are so important. As forest lands continue to be lost, these relatively narrow, linear patches of vegetation form vital natural habitat linkages between larger forest patches. They allow elephants to move between secure habitats freely, without being disturbed by humans. In many cases, elephant corridors are also critical for other wildlife.
To have elephants in isolated populations, unable to move freely through their home ranges, would therefore have a devastating effect on India’s natural heritage. Many animal species would suffer and the ecosystem balance of several wild habitats would be unalterably upset. It would also, of course, eventually lead to the local extinction of India’s National Heritage Animal, one of the wisest and most beloved species on the planet.
To secure a future for wild elephants it is essential that we ensure their uninterrupted movement between key habitats. And to do this, designated corridors must be legally secured and protected.
We, the students and staff of The Shriram Millennium School, Noida are convinced that time for fence sitting and merely thinking about the issue is over. It is time to join hands with WTI and Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change! It is time to act! It is time to support and create awareness, work with communities in these corridors and make this an issue of national importance where the citizenry is compelled and motivated to lend a helping hand to this initiative by signing our petition – for ‘People for Gaj’ movement.
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