State government of Chhattisgarh proposed to reduce the area of Lemru elephant reserve.
About Lemru Elephant reserve:
- Lemru Elephant Reserve was approved by Chhattisgarh Government in 2005 and got central approval in 2007.
- Lemru is one of the two elephant reserves being planned to prevent human-elephant conflict and to provide a permanent habitat for the elephants.
- The other is the Badalkhol Tamorpingla Elephant Reserve, which was approved by the Chhattisgarh Government in 2011. Tamorpingla wildlife sanctuary already exists in the state, but no work on this elephant reserve has begun yet.
- The reserve is located in the Korba district of Chhattisgarh.
- addition to providing a permanent habitat to the elephants.
- Earlier, the state government notified the reserve (Conservation Reserve) in October 2020 under Section 36A of the Wild Life (Protection) Act, 1972 (WLPA).
- Section 36A has a special provision that gives the Union government a say in the process of notification in case the land to be notified as conservation reserve has areas belonging to the Centre.
- Elephant reserves are not recognised under the WLPA.
Reason for Reducing Size:
- The area proposed under the reserve is part of the Hasdeo Aranya forests, a very diverse biozone that is also rich in coal deposits.
- Of 22 coal blocks in the area, 7 have already been allotted with mines running in three, and in the process of being established in the other four.
- Under the ‘No-Go Area’ policy from the UPA area, the entire area was considered out of bounds for mines, but in 2020, five coal blocks from the region were put on the auction list.
- The biggest challenge in increasing the reserve area was that several coal mines would become unusable.
Effects of mining in forests area
- The people dwelling in the forests of Surguja, Korba, Jashpur and Raigarh districts in Northern Chhattisgarh have been witnessing the migration of elephants into their forests.
- The rampant open cast mining in Jharkhand had destroyed elephant habitats, which ultimately pushing the pachyderms to the rich forest regions in North Chhattisgarh.
- The mining has driven the elephants in search of new forest territories, which takes them through human-dominated habitats, aggravating incidents of human-elephant interactions that end in injury or death.
- The human-elephant conflict is a symptom of inappropriate land-use practices such as diversion of forest for development and mining activities.
- It leads to loss or fragmentation of elephant habitats and traditional routes which leads to loss of food and water for the elephants in the forest.
Importance of the reserve
- Elephants are found in five divisions of the state.
- North Chhattisgarh alone is home to over 240 elephants. More than 150 elephants have died in the state over the last 20 years, including 16 between June and October 2020.
- Elephants in Chhattisgarh are relatively new; according to experts, they started moving into undivided Madhya Pradesh in 1990.
- While MP had a policy of pushing back the animals coming from Jharkhand, after Chhattisgarh was formed, the lack of a formal policy allowed elephants to use as a corridor a route in the north and central parts of the state.
- As these creatures were relatively new, human-animal conflict arose when elephants began wandering into populated areas in search of food.
The National Heritage Animal
The government of India in the year 2010 declared Elephant as the national heritage animal of the country on the recommendations of the standing committee of the national board for wildlife. This was done to make sure that sufficient protection to elephants was provided before their numbers fall to panic levels like in the case of tigers.
A proposed National elephant conservation authority (NECA) on the lines with NTCA has been proposed to be constituted by amending the Wildlife Protection Act 1972.
Various initiatives for Conservation of elephants in India
- Project Elephant-1992
- The Elephant Task Force Report, 2010 “Gajah”
- Gaj Yatra campaign-2017
- Campaign Haathi Mere Saathi
- MIKE Programme
Other Protected Areas in Chhattisgarh:
- Achanakmar Tiger Reserve.
- Indravati Tiger Reserve.
- Sitanadi-Udanti Tiger Reserve
- Kanger Valley National Park
- Badalkhol Tamor Pingla Elephant Reserve.
- Elephants are keystone species.
- There are three subspecies of Asian elephant – the Indian, Sumatran, and Sri Lankan.
- The Indian elephant has the widest range and accounts for the majority of the remaining elephants on the continent.
Conservation Status of Indian Elephants:
- Wildlife Protection Act, 1972: Schedule I
- IUCN Red List: Endangered
- CITES: Appendix I
India’s Initiatives for Conservation of Elephants:
- Gaj Yatra: A nationwide campaign to protect elephants, was launched on the occasion of World Elephant Day in 2017.
- Project Elephant: It is a centrally sponsored scheme which was launched in 1992.
- Seed Bombs: Recently Odisha’s Athagarh Forest Division has started casting seed balls (or bombs) inside different reserve forest areas to enrich food stock for wild elephants to prevent man-elephant conflict.
- Right of Passage of the Animals: Recently, the Supreme Court (SC) upheld the 2011 order of the Madras High Court (HC) on the Nilgiris elephant corridor, affirming the right of passage of the animals and the closure of resorts in the area.
International initiatives to conserve Elephants:
- The Monitoring the Illegal Killing of Elephants (MIKE) programme, launched in 2003, is an international collaboration that tracks trends in information related to the illegal killing of elephants from across Africa and Asia, to monitor effectiveness of field conservation efforts.
Source: Indian Express