The main focus of the NEAP will be to mitigate human-elephant conflict, along with improvement of habitat
The Union Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEF&CC) has created a technical committee to come up with a National Elephant Action Plan (NEAP).
The committee was created on October 22, 2019, and includes thirteen members, with Inspector General of Forest (Project Elephant) Noyal Thomas as the chairman.
The committee includes KM Selvan (MoEF&CC), Ajay Desai (World Wide Fund for Nature), R Sukumar (Indian Institute of Science), Bivash Pandav (Wildlife Institute of India), Sandeep Kumar Tiwari (International Union for Conservation of Nature), Prajna Paramita Panda (Wildlife Trust of India) along with the Chief Wildlife Wardens of Karnataka, Assam, West Bengal, Uttarakhand, Kerala and Odisha.
The committee has to prepare the NEAP for the conservation and management of elephants in the country within one year and submit it to the MoEF&CC for approval.
“The first meeting of the committee was held on November 26 to discuss the plan,” KM Selvan told Down to Earth (DTE).
The main focus of the NEAP will be to mitigate human-elephant conflict, along with improvement of habitat.
“The NEAP will build on the human-elephant conflict management guidelines of 2017 and take it forward. An important focus will also be to improve the quality of elephant habitat, along with maintaining the continuity of the habitat,” Bivash Pandav told DTE.
According to the Synchronized Elephant Population Estimation, 2017, by the MoEF&CC, wild elephants are found in four main geographical regions in India — Northern (Uttarakahnd, Uttar Pradesh, Haryana and Himachal Pradesh), East-Central (Odisha, Jharkhand, Bihar, Southern Bengal and Chhattisgarh), Northeastern (Assam, Arunachal Pradesh, Northern Bengal, Meghalaya, Nagaland, Tripura, Mizoram and Manipur) and Southern (Karnataka, Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, Maharashtra and Andaman and Nicobar).
“The highest population is in the Southern region. The maximum instances of human-elephant conflict are in East Central region and West Bengal,” Pandav said.
According to the 2017 estimation, the southern region has 11,960 elephants, northeastern region has 10,139 elephants and the East central and northern regions have 3,128 and 2,085 elephants respectively.
According to a Rajya Sabha answer by then Minister of State in the MoEF&CC, Mahesh Sharma on February 11 this year, between 2015-16 and December 2018, 1,703 human deaths by elephants were recorded.
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