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  • 15 May, 2021

  • 15 Min Read

186 elephants killed on rail tracks in over 10 years

186 elephants were killed on rail tracks in over 10 years

Asiatic Elephant

  • Asiatic Elephant is Endangered in IUCN; Schedule I of Wildlife Protection Act and Appendix I of CITES.
  • Elephants are National Heritage animals.
  • World Elephant Day = 12 Aug, 2017.
  • Elephant Reserves (ER are declared by the Center)
    1. Singhbhum ER in JH is the 1st ER in India.
    2. Karnataka has the highest Elephants followed by Assam & Kerala.
    3. Singphan ER = Nagaland. (Other Protected Areas in NG = Itangki NP, Fakim WS, Pulibadze WS, Rangapahar WS).
    4. Manas NP is also an Elephant reserve.
  • Elephant Corridors
    1. Elephant Corridots are narrow strips of land that connect 2 large habitats of Elephants.
    2. Elephant corridors are crucial to reducing animal fatalities due to accidents and other reasons.
    3. Odisha, Jharkhand and Chattisgarh are mineral-rich states, but also have the highest number of Elephant corridors.
    4. Asian Elephant Alliance,
      1. It is an umbrella initiative by 5 NGOs, has come together to secure 96 out of the 101 existing corridors in the next 10 years used by elephants across 12 States in India.
      2. NGOs Elephant Family, International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW), IUCN Netherlands and World Land Trust have teamed up with Wildlife Trust of India’s (WTI) in the alliance.
  • Project Elephant, 1992
    1. It was launched by India in the year 1992 as a Centrally Sponsored Scheme with the following objectives:1
      1. To protect elephants, their habitat & corridors
      2. To address issues of man-animal conflict
      3. The welfare of captive elephants
    2. It is implemented in 16 States and MoEF provides financial and technical support.
  • MoEF + WTI launched Gaj Yatra from Tura in Garo Hills, Meghalaya
    1. Gaj Yatra is a mega campaign launched on World Elephants Day (12 Aug) by NGOs WTI + IFAW (both are NGOs) (International Fund for Animal Welfare). The campaign is planned to cover 12 Elephant range states. 100 Elephant corridors. Awareness.
    2. Recognize people's Initiative of Community forests for Human - Elephant Harmony & conservation of animals like Hoolock Gibbon.
  • MoEF + WTI launched Haathi mere Saathi campaign
    1. Launched at E-8 meetin un 2011. For awareness.
    2. E-8 members include India, Srilanka, Thailand, Indonesia; Botswana, DRC, Kenya, Tanzania.
  • MIKE: Monitoring of Illegal Killing of Elephants (MIKE) programme
    1. MIKE is established by the UN CITES. At the core of the MIKE Programme is the site-based monitoring of elephant mortality.
    2. MIKE aims to help Elephant range States improve their ability to monitor elephant populations, detect illegal killings, and use this information to provide more effective law enforcement and strengthen any regulatory measures required to support such enforcement.
  • Elephant Trade Information System (ETIS):
    1. ETIS is a comprehensive information system to track the illegal trade in ivory and other elephant products.
    2. It shares the same objectives as those set out for MIKE, with the difference that its aim is to record and analyse levels and trends in illegal trade, rather than the illegal killing of elephants.
  • Elephant Endotheliotropic Herpes virus (EEHV)
    1. EEHV is as a type of herpes virus that can cause a highly fatal hemorrhagic disease in young Asian elephants.
    2. It is a rare disease that has affected 5 elephants in Odisha.
  • Elephant Conflict
    1. Bengal, Odisha and Assam account for half the fatalities in the man-elephant conflict.
    2. Reasons: Electrocution > Train Accidents > Poaching > Poisoning.
  • Wayanad WS: is a part of Nilgiri Biosphere Reserve. It has the World's largest recorded population of Asiatic Elephant. It is drained by the Kabini river which is a tributary of the Cauvery river.
  • MP gets its 1st Elephant colony in Bandhavgarh forests (Elephants came from Chattisgarh).
  • India’s first elephant rehabilitation centre is to be set up in Kottoor, Kerala. It is being planned on the lines of the Pinnawala Elephant Orphanage in Sri Lanka. India has also opened its first water clinic for elephants suffering from arthritis, joint pain and foot ailments at a wildlife SOS Elephant Hospital, Mathura, UP.

Difference between Asiatic Elephants and African Elephants

Asian Elephants

African Elephants

  • Elephus Maximus.
  • 3000 - 6000 kg.
  • Smoother skin.
  • They have 20 pair of ribs.
  • Highest point is on back.
  • They have small ear.
  • Dent on forehead.
  • Molars strongly compressed.
  • Male has Tusk and female dont have tusks.
  • Grass eaters.

  • Loxodanta Africana.
  • 4000 - 7000 kg. Heavier.
  • Skin is wrinkled.
  • They have 21 pair of ribs.
  • Highest point is on shoulder.
  • Big ear. They reach till neck.
  • No dent on forehead.
  • Molars are diamond in shape.
  • Both Male and Female have tusks but male have bigger.
  • Leaves and Branch eaters.

Read more about Elephant: Click here

What is the news?

  • As human-elephant conflicts increase with time and expanding human range, understanding social behaviour becomes crucial to the conservation and management of the highly social and endangered Asian elephant.
  • The Asian elephant is a charismatic species with a long history of co-existence with humans. Yet works on male societies of wild elephants based on long-term observations are rare.
  • To fill this gap, researchers from Jawaharlal Nehru Centre for Advanced Scientific Research (JNCASR), an autonomous Institute of the Department of Science and Technology, Government of India, studied associations of male Asian elephants by collecting and analysing data on behaviour of identified nonmusth wild Asian elephants of Nagarahole and Bandipur National Parks.
  • They found that the time spent by male Asian elephants in all-male and mixed-sex groups depended on the age of the male.
  • Adult Asian male elephants preferred to spend their time alone than in mixed-sex or in all-male groups. Besides, old males were found mostly in the company of their age peers and less frequently with young males (15 to 30 years of age). Also, young males did not disproportionately initiate associations with old males.
  • Adult male Asian elephants are less social than females. They enter musth -- a mate-searching strategy for old (above 30 years of age) males, annually. The researchers hypothesised that when the adult males enter musth, dominance relationships may affect the number of mating opportunities they procure. Hence, it might be more crucial for old males than for young males to test strength with each other and settle dominance relationships during their nonmusth time.
  • On the other hand, since young males associated less with females during musth than non-musth time, they might also be using their non-musth time to search for mating opportunities.
  • The team observed male elephants and identified them using features of their ears, tails, and tusks and recorded whether males associated with each other in the presence or absence of females.
  • They used six years of field data on 83 identified males for this study, which was published in the open-access journal ‘Frontiers in Ecology and Evolution’. They considered two possible reasons for male associations --non-musth males may use their time to fight with males of the same age class, who would be of similar sizes, to decide their dominance relationships, and young males might also use their associations to learn from older males about food resources and/or reproductive behaviour.
  • Their results showed that all-male groups (in the absence of females) were rare and small. According to the team, social learning from older males did not seem to play a big role in male associations. In contrast, African savannah elephants have been found to spend more time in all-male groups and to form larger groups, and young males preferred to associate with older males.
  • The researchers said that this could be due to the difference in the dispersion of food resources in the habitats occupied by the two species.
  • This study is one of the few that examines male associations in species in which males rove between social groups. It provides an example of how ecological differences could possibly drive differences in male societies in related species with similar male reproductive strategies.

What is the news?

  • A total of 186 elephants were killed after being hit by trains across India between 2009-10 and 2020-21, according to the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEFCC).
  • According to the data furnished by the Project Elephant Division of the Ministry, Assam accounted for the highest number of elephant casualties on railway tracks (62), followed by West Bengal (57), and Odisha (27). Uttar Pradesh saw just one death.
  • Trains claimed the highest number of pachyderms in 2012-13, when 27 elephants were killed in 10 States as per the data accessed by activist R. Pandiyaraja from Tenkasi district in Tamil Nadu through the Right to Information (RTI) Act.
  • According to the Ministry, a Permanent Coordination Committee was constituted between the Ministry of Railways (Railway Board) and the MoEFCC for preventing elephant deaths in train accidents.

Key measures

  • The formation of coordination committees of officers of Indian Railways and State Forest Departments, clearing of vegetation along railway tracks to enable clear view for loco pilots, using signage boards at suitable points to alert loco pilots about elephant presence, moderating slopes of elevated sections of railway tracks, setting up underpass/overpass for safe passage of elephants, regulation of train speed from sunset to sunrise in vulnerable stretches, and regular patrolling of vulnerable stretches of railway tracks by frontline staff of the Forest Department and wildlife watchers are among other initiatives the Ministry has undertaken.
  • The MoEFCC also stated that it released ?212.49 crore to elephant range States under Centrally Sponsored Schemes (CSS) of Project Elephant to protect elephants, their habitat and corridors, to address man-elephant conflicts, and for the welfare of captive elephants, between 2011-12 and 2020-21.
  • Kerala stood at the top in getting CSS funds of ?35.39 crore during the period. Punjab received the lowest of the funds — ? 1.82 lakh, according to the RTI document.

Source: TH

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