Earlier proposal to create elephant reserves was discarded
The Orissa government has chalked out a plan to protect elephant habitats in the state. The move to restore degraded elephant corridors was prompted by frequent incidents of elephants straying into human habitations.
Wildlife research officer L A K Singh said over the years the corridors have become fragmented and elephants that stray into human settlements are actually victims of habitat degradation. He said the fragmented forests would be improved qualitatively and made attractive for elephants by ensuring adequate food stocks and water. “If the elephants get what they want within their movement corridors, they won’t stray,” said Singh.
Officials in the forest and wildlife department said 14 corridors used by elephants have been identified for improvement. They are spread over 870 sq km and are scattered over almost all Orissa districts.
Special secretary in the forest department, B P Singh, said a study is on to examine whether more corridors are needed and if certain corridors need widening. The study is likely to be completed by March, Singh said. The wildlife department has also engaged 98 elephant trackers to keep a watch on the movement of elephants and check poaching.
Orissa has 1,862 elephants and more than 170 people have been killed by rampaging elephants since 2005.
Environmentalists are sceptical about the scheme. Biswajit Mohanty of the non-profit, Wildlife Society of Orissa, said an earlier proposal made by the state government to the Centre to create the South Orissa and Baitarani elephant reserves was withdrawn under pressure from mining lobby. “The officials are only going to waste more money in the name of saving elephants,” Mohanty said.
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