In India, we’re helping elephants and humans live on the land harmoniously.
India is home to more than a billion of the world’s people—a number that has quadrupled in the past seventy years. That growth has decimated the country’s elephant habitats. Today, those habitats are only 3.5 percent of their former size, and more fragmented than ever. Yet, almost 60% of the world’s Asian elephants live on the subcontinent.
Asian elephants travel between habitats by following traditional migratory routes. But over the past few decades, new infrastructure has cut across these corridors, and village expansion has shrunk their boundaries. And as elephant corridors have started to disappear, human-elephant conflicts have become more common—ruining crops, destroying homes, and causing tragic accidents for members of both species.
We’ve been working with the Wildlife Trust of India (WTI) for more than a decade to preserve these corridors and help humans live with elephants in harmony.
In 2005, we joined researchers, NGOs, and the Indian government to identify the 88 corridors that we would need to secure to give elephants free passage between habitats. The next year, we secured and donated the land for the first of these corridors, a 25 acre path connecting the Kollegal Forest and the Biligiri Rangaswamy Temple Wildlife Sanctuary in Karnataka state. Today, the number of critical corridors has expanded from 88 to 101.
Preserving corridors takes more than just securing lands – we have to change minds as well. So, we’ve partnered with the Wildlife Trust of India to mobilize the will of local communities, advocating policy changes and generating a groundswell of support through events focused on the Right of Passage for elephants in India.
Our efforts started on World Elephant Day 2017 with Gaj Yatra. An interactive roadshow, Gaj Yatra travels across the country to host parades, flag ceremonies, and other events dedicated to Asian Elephant conservation.
In 2018, we hosted the Gaj Mahotsav festival in New Delhi. Over the course of four days, more than 3,000 attendees—from artists and celebrities to conservationists and politicians—united to celebrate the Asian elephant’s status as India’s National Heritage Animal, and to inspire each other to protect and preserve elephant corridors.
More than 27,000 wild elephants will get unhindered right of passage, but only if we are able to secure all 101 corridors. We’re making progress, but there is still plenty of work to be done.
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The problems we face are urgent, complicated and resistant to change. Real solutions demand creativity, hard work and involvement from people like you.