The largest wild population of Asian elephants in the world is threatened by development over a 2.5 kilometer wide corridor, according to Rainforest Information Centre which is a part of an international campaign to change the location of the development. The corridor, located in the Western Ghats of India, is the last unbroken forest leading the elephants from wet season to dry season feeding grounds. Unfortunately the corridor also connects two different Indian states: Kerala and Karnataka.
Already, a busy interstate highway passes through the elephants’ forest, used by hundred of vehicles around the clock. Currently checkpoints leading from one state to another are located in three different places, leaving the forest corridor free for elephants to pass. However, a recent decision has been made to combine the checkpoints of the three states in the center of the elephant corridor.
Asian elephants in Thailand. Photo by: Rhett A. Butler.
“This development would include all manner of infrastructure – building complexes, housing, offices, toilets and dormitories for drivers, a fuel filling station and so on,” writes the nonprofit conservation group, Rainforest Information Centre. “The checkpoint clearance takes hours, so there would be hundreds of lorries parked along the road throughout the night on either side of the checkpoints within the forests preventing elephants from using the corridor.”
Rainforest Information Center notes that work has already begun: a trench has been dug which prevents elephants “from crossing the road, cutting [the elephants] off from the the river and whatever little fodder available on the river margin”. Working with the Indian environmental organization, Wayanard Nature Protection Group, and Forests.org, an online activist center, Rainforests Information Centre has encouraged supporters to contact government officials.
“The best solution would be the relocation of the checking stations to outside the forest on the Kerala side of the corridor where suitable land for this is available,” suggests Rainforests Information Centre. “It is also necessary to prohibit vehicle movement during certain night-time hours for example, between 11 p.m. and 4 a.m.”
John Seed of Rainforests Information Centre told Mongabay.com: “we feel confident that international attention can persuade the Kerala government to move the site of its planned development out of the corridor and out of the jungle.”
(03/31/2009) As reported by the Associated Press, two 20-year-old female Sumatran elephants were found on March 24th dead in the forests of Kerinci National Park due to gunshots in the head. The females had been partners with local rangers, who rode them to patrol the park to keep out illegal loggers.
(02/19/2009) Indochina’s remaining elephants are at risk from surging ivory prices in Vietnam, according to a new report from the wildlife trade monitoring network TRAFFIC.
(01/15/2009) A population of 631 Asian elephants has been documented in Malaysia’s Taman Negara National Park, reports the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS). The population may be the largest in Southeast Asia. Scientists from WCS and Malaysia’s Department of Wildlife and National Parks (DWNP) counted elephant dung piles to estimate the protected area’s population size. There were no previous scientific population surveys for elephants in the park.