Elephants in the Nilgiri biosphere comprising Tamil Nadu, Karnataka and Kerala, are relatively safe, with the number of poaching cases having reduced over the years, renowned conservationist and expert on Asiatic elephants Dr Raman Sukumar said here on Saturday.
“The loss and fragmentation of habitat, elephant-human conflict and poaching have been the main factors against the animal, but the South Indian region has been in a relatively better position,” he added On balancing the conservation of wild elephants and imperatives of development, he said, “Both can go hand in hand, but we have to avoid habitat fragmentation. Proper planning of roads or rail laying could go in long way in achieving this.”
Dr Nanditha Krishna, director of C.P. Ramasamy Foundation, which is conducting a week-long exhibition and having the experts talk on elephants as a part of raising awareness on the animal, said, “A policy has to be developed on building infrastructure in such areas, and it is not just elephants, but other animals too that are at the receiving end of such projects.”
Dr Sukumar pointed out that state governments were wasting public money by constructing trenches in forests and sanctuaries as elephants were getting past them to raid crops in nearby human settlements. “A wild elephant’s habitat ranges from 250-1.000 sq km. The Nilgiris and Mysore-Wayanad biosphere have developed bottlenecks due to infrastructure developments and these need to be removed without delay to minimise human-animal conflict,” he said.
The practice in Mysore during Dussehra of having elephant carry a heavy throne and the use of elephants in festivals in general must change, he said.