Creating safe passages for Indian elephants

Asian elephants are in a perilous state. Habitat loss, fragmentation and degradation as well as ivory poaching have left only 35,000-45,000 Asian elephants in the wild. Survival for these few remaining elephants requires urgent action.

In India, IFAW and our partner organisation, Wildlife Trust of India, focus on the development of habitat linkages called “corridors.”  Working with elephant researchers, forest officials and other organisations, we’ve identified 88 migration corridors to help elephants migrate in search of food and water.

The Kaziranga- Karbi Anglong elephant corridor

One such corridor is the Kaziranga-Karbi Anglong elephant corridor at Panbari in Assam, connecting the elephant population of Kaziranga National Park and South Karbi Anglong Wildlife Sanctuary, an area that supports nearly 2,000 elephants.

The corridor is about 72.5 hectares, of which about 15 hectares was acquired by the government. The remaining agricultural land is under the possession of local people from Methoni Tea Estate and Siljuri-Kakojuri villages.

Although the Civil Administration and the Forest Department in Assam were trying to secure this important migration corridor, local landowners did not feel that the amount offered by the government was adequate. In 2007, we started working with stakeholders in this corridor to purchase the land and improve the lives of its villagers.

After much negotiation, we offered to match the amount being paid by the government. The people of Siljuri-Kakojuri gave their written consent to turn over their land, constituting about 70 per cent of the corridor, and the land was acquired in December 2009.

Apart from the financial compensation, the agreement included other activities to enhance the communities.

An important problem in one village was lack of clean drinking water. To solve it, IFAW installed two hand pumps for the village. The primary school building was in a poor state with hardly any furniture or equipment, so we helped them repair the school and provided them with desks, chairs and teaching kits to improve their children’s basic education.

Efforts are still being made to reach agreement with the people of Methoni village.