Elephant Reserves in India: UPSC Prelims Preparation

Flora and fauna constitute a significant part of Geography and Environment syllabus for UPSC. Both the subjects have a significant overlap with each other. Ignoring any of the topics may result in securing less marks in the Prelims exam. This article talks about the facts and figures relevant for UPSC 2019 about Project Elephant and its success, along with some important statistics about the population of elephants in India.

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The Indian Elephant is widely seen in 16 of the 28 states in the country, especially in the Southern part of the Western Ghats, North-Eastern India, Eastern India, Central India and Northern India. The species is included in the list of protected species according to the Schedule I of the Indian Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972 and in the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Flora and Fauna (CITES). According to recent reports, the elephant population in India is demonstrating a stable trend across elephant reserves in India. The population of elephants in the year 2012, was estimated at 31,368 while it had fallen to 27312 in 2017. The elephant population of India was 27,682 in 2007. The average population throughout the period was about 26700. Differing counts have been attributed to a difference in counting methods. Some states such as Manipur, Mizoram, Bihar, Madhya Pradesh, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh and Andaman & Nicobar had reported sightings for the first time in 2017. The following table gives the last estimated population in states where data was available:

State

Elephants (2017-18)

Karnataka

6049

Assam

5719

Kerala

3054

Tamil Nadu

2761

Odisha

1976

Uttarakhand

1839

Meghalaya

1754

Arunachal Pradesh

1614

Jharkhand

679

Nagaland

446

Chhattisgarh

247

Uttar Pradesh

232

West Bengal

194

Tripura

102

Andhra Pradesh

65

Bihar

25

Gujarat

10

Madhya Pradesh

7

Mizoram

7

Maharashtra

6

Environmentalists have studied why are Indian Elephants endangered for a long time. They came to the conclusion that conversion of habitats into farmland, Human-Elephant conflict and an absence of elephant corridors in India were the main reasons for the decline in population of elephants. Due to the conclusions drawn from these studies, ‘Project Elephant’ was launched by the Government of India in 1992.The population of these animals was about 15000 when the project was started and has increased since then. It is a government scheme that helps state governments to take financial and technical assistance from the central government in their wildlife management efforts. It has the following stated objectives:

  • To guard elephants, their habitat and elephant corridors in India
  • To deal with the issues of human-animal conflict
  • Welfare of elephants in captivity, such as draught elephants, elephants in zoos and religious institutions etc.

Project Elephant: Elephant Sanctuaries

The project has enabled the setting up of different agencies and programmes such as the Elephant Task Force and Monitoring of Illegal Killing of Elephants ( MIKE ) Programme. It also helped set up elephant sanctuaries in India. There are a total of 32 elephant reserves in India, which are listed below:

Zone

State

Elephant Reserve

North-Western Landscape

Uttarakhand

Shivalik Elephant Reserve

Uttar Pradesh

Uttar Pradesh Elephant Reserve

East-Central Landscape

West Bengal

Mayurjharna Elephant Reserve

Jharkhand

Singhbhum Elephant Reserve

Orissa

Mayurbhanj Elephant Reserve

Orissa

Mahanadi Elephant Reserve

Orissa

Sambalpur Elephant Reserve

Orissa

Baitami Elephant Reserve

Orissa

South Orissa Elephant Reserve

Chhattisgarh

Lemru Elephant Reserve

Chhattisgarh

Badalkhol – Tamor Pingla Elephant Reserve

Kameng- Sonitpur Landscape

Arunachal Pradesh

Kameng Elephant Reserve

Assam

Sonitpur Elephant Reserve

Eastern-South Bank Landscape

Assam

Dihing-Patkai Elephant Reserve

Arunachal Pradesh

South Arunachal Elephant Reserve

Kaziranga-Karbi Anglong-Intanki Landscape

Assam

Kaziranga-Karbi Anglong Elephant Reserve

Assam

Dhansiri-Lungding Elephant Reserve

Nagaland

Intanki Elephant Reserve

North Bengal- Greater Manas Landscape

Assam

Chirang-Ripu Elephant Reserve

West Bengal

Eastern Dooars Elephant Reserve

Meghalaya Landscape

Meghalaya

Garo Hills Elephant Reserve

Meghalaya

Khasi-hills Elephant Reserve

Brahmagiri- Nilgiri-Eastern Ghats Landscape

Karnataka

Mysore Elephant Reserve

Kerala

Wayanad Elephant Reserve

Tamil Nadu

Nilgiri Elephant Reserve

Andhra Pradesh

Rayala Elephant Reserve

Kerala

Nilambur Elephant Reserve

Tamil Nadu

Coimbatore Elephant Reserve

Annamalai- Nelliyampathy- High Range Landscape

Tamil Nadu

Annamalai Elephant Reserve

Kerala

Anamudi Elephant Reserve

Periyar- Agasthyamalai Landscape

Kerala

Periyar Elephant Reserve

Tamil Nadu

Srivilliputhur Elephant Reserve

Project Elephant is considered a success in the view of many conservationists as it has been able to keep the population of elephants in India at a stable and sustainable level.

IAS aspirants should read more on such conservation projects initiated by the Government of India for Environment and Geography as well as Government Schemes for UPSC 2019.

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