On Tuesday 12th November 2013, His Royal Highness The Prince of Wales gave much-needed attention to the wild Asian elephant. As part of a four-day visit to Kerala State, The Prince of Wales visited the Vazhachal Forest Range within a globally important area for elephants.
He learned how the elephants here suffered from heavy poaching in the 1980s, and how one of the greatest problems throughout the country today is conflict between the elephants and the communities that live on the fringes of their forest habitats. With his profound interest in wildlife and personal commitment to fighting wildlife crime – including the illegal ivory trade – it is hoped that this visit will stimulate more investment in Asian elephant conservation.
The Prince of Wales met a number of Forest Department rangers, many of whom have been trained in anti-poaching techniques through a partnership between the Wildlife Protection Society of India (WPSI) and Elephant Family. Poaching appears to be on the rise again in India, and we are currently appealing for funds to counteract this. The impact it can have on Asian elephants can be just as devastating as in Africa. Unlike its African counterpart, only the male Asian elephants have tusks, and in many places in India large-scale poaching has left severely skewed sex ratios. India has a population of about 27,700 wild elephants, of which only about 1,200 are males of breeding age. In some parts of South India the male-female ratio is 1:100. The killing of just a few bulls can threaten whole populations.
The Prince also learned about an elephant corridor in Kerala that was secured by The Wildlife Trust of India (WTI) and Elephant Family, with support from our wonderful donors (you!). Rapidly increasing population growth means that people are increasingly encroaching on elephant habitats, with tragic results. Elephants destroy villagers’ crops, and are killed in retaliation. They also die in accidents, such as being hit by trains or electrocuted by low-hanging power lines. Securing corridors is so important to prevent this situation getting even worse.
Meeting the Prince of Wales from WPSI were S. Guruvayurappan, Balan Madhavan (who is also the Director of the Madhavan Pillai Foundation), and the Founder and Executive Director of WPSI, Belinda Wright OBE. Commenting on the significance of the occasion, Belinda said, “The Prince of Wales expressed a strong, well-informed interest in elephant conservation and it was a wonderful opportunity to be able to discuss issues such as human-elephant conflict, poaching and the illegal ivory trade. And what better place to do this than in wild elephant habitat inside the jungles of India!”. More....