Project Elephant - List Of Elephant Reserves In India

This article will talk about Project Elephant, its aim and objective along with the facts and figures related to the success of the project. You will also know the list of Elephant Reserves in India. 

The topic of Project Elephant, Elephant reserves and the related facts and figures relevant for UPSC 2023 and other competitive exams like Banking, SSC, RRB, Insurance and other government exams. 

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What is Project Elephant?

Project Elephant is a Central Government sponsored scheme launched in February 1992. 

Through the Project Elephant scheme, the government helps in the protection and management of elephants to the states having wild elephants in a free-ranging population.  

It ensures the protection of elephant corridors and elephant habitat for the survival of the elephant population in the wild.

This elephant conservation strategy is mainly implemented in 16 of 28 states or union territories in the country which includes Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, Andhra Pradesh, Chhattisgarh Jharkhand, Kerala, Karnataka, Meghalaya, Maharashtra, Nagaland, Orissa, Tamil Nadu, Uttaranchal, Uttar Pradesh, and West Bengal.

The union government provides technical and financial help to these states to carry out and achieve the goals of project elephant. Not just that, assistance for the purpose of the census, training of field officials is also provided to ensure the mitigation and prevention of man-elephant conflict.

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Project Elephant – A Successful Scheme For Elephant Conservation

The Indian Elephant is widely seen in 16 of the 28 states of India, 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 the 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. 

Elephant – 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.

Project Elephant Objectives 

  • To ensure the Welfare of domesticated elephants
  • Protection of elephants, their habitats and elephant corridors.
  • Mitigation and prevention of human-elephant conflict.

Aims of Project Elephant

  • Develop and promote scientific and planned management strategies for Elephant conservation.
  • Prevent illegal trade of ivory and ensure elephant protection from hunters and poachers.
  • Develop strategies to prevent unnatural causes of elephants’ death in India.
  • Ensure ecological restoration of the natural elephant habitats and their migratory routes.
  • To mitigate and prevent the increasing conflict in elephant habitats between humans and elephants. 
  • Reduce and remove domestic livestock grazing, the pressure of humans and their activities in important elephant habitats.
  • Promote scientific research on issues related to elephant conservation and educating the public on these issues.
  • To facilitate veterinary care for proper breeding and health care of domesticated elephants and to facilitate Eco-development for the elephants.

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Project Elephant: Sanctuaries & Elephant Reserves In India

As notified by the government, there are around 32 elephant Reserves in India. The very first elephant reserve or elephant sanctuary was the Singhbhum Elephant Reserve of Jharkhand. 

The List of Elephant reserves in India is as mentioned below: 

Zone  State Elephant Reserves
North-Western Landscape Uttrakhand Shivalik Elephant Reserve
Uttarpradesh Uttar Pradesh Elephant Reserve
East-Central Landscape West Bengal  Mayurjharna Elephant Reserve
Jharkhand Singhbhum Elephant Reserve
Orissa Mayurbhanj Elephant Reserve

Mahanadi Elephant Reserve

Sambalpur Elephant Reserve

Baitami Elephant Reserve

South Orissa Elephant Reserve

Chhattisgarh Lemru Elephant Reserve

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

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

Khasi-hills Elephant Reserve

Brahmagiri- Nilgiri-Eastern Ghats Landscape Karnataka Mysore Elephant Reserve
Kerala Wayanad Elephant Reserve

Nilambur Elephant Reserve

Tamil Nadu Coimbatore Elephant Reserve

Nilgiri Elephant Reserve

Andhra Pradesh Rayala 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

Along with enabling the set up of various elephant reserves in India, Project Elephant also lead to setting up of different programs and agencies such as MIKE- Monitoring of Illegal Killing of Elephants and the Elephant Task Force.

Project Elephant – MIKE Programme

MIKE the abbreviation of the Monitoring of Illegal Killing of Elephants program was started in South Asia in 2003 after the conference of parties a resolution of CITES. 

The aim of MIKE was to provide the information required by the elephant range countries for proper management and long-term protection of their elephant populations.

The objectives of the MIKE program is as follows:

To measure the levels and trends in the illegal poaching and ensure changes in the trends for elephant protection. 

To determine the factors responsible for such changes, and to assess the impact of decisions by the conference of parties to CITES.

Campaign Haathi Mere Saathi

The Ministry of Environment and forests in partnership with Wildlife Trust of India has launched a campaign Hathi Mere Sathi. The aim of the campaign was to increase public awareness and develop friendships between elephants and the local population. The campaign Haathi Mere Saathi was for the welfare of the elephants, to conserve and protect the elephants in India. 

The campaign was launched in Delhi on 24th May 2011 at Elephant- 8 ministerial meetings. The countries that are a part of the Elephant-8 ministerial meeting are Kenya, Srilanka, Botswana, Republic of Congo, Tanzania, Indonesia, Thailand, and India.

Elephant Task Force

The increased tension due to rampant retaliatory killing of elephants and human-elephant conflict prompted the government to set up the Elephant Task Force along the lines of the Tiger Task Force. The focus of the Elephant Task Force was to bring pragmatic solutions for the conservation of elephants in the long-term. 

The ETF was headed by a wildlife historian and political analyst, Dr Mahesh Rangarajan. And the other members included were conservation and animal welfare activists, elephant biologists, and a veterinarian.

India has around 25000 – 29000 elephants in the wild. However, the tuskers (male) in India are as threatened as the Tigers as there are only around 1200 tusker elephants left in India.

The Asian elephants are threatened by habitat degradation, man-elephant conflict, and poaching for the Ivory. This problem is more intense in India which has around 50% of the total population of the world’s Asian elephants.

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.

The Topic Project Elephant, Elephant Reserves in India is an important Static GK topic in terms of the UPSC exam.  Candidates can check more such Static GK topics in the linked article. 

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