The key to solving the man-animal conflict and to conserve elephants lies in understanding the problem and finding scientific solutions using engineering said Vivek Menon, founder and CEO of Wildlife Trust of India and chairman of Asian Elephant Specialist Group. “We had conducted a survey on all the elephant corridors and marked zones where the conflict rate was higher. We also submitted a proposal detailing the solutions such as setting up fences, reducing the gradient of the curves, reducing garbage dumps on the tracks and setting up tracks for passage of animals. The proposal was accepted by the department but the deaths in those areas have continued. The department is yet to take steps to implement the suggestions,” said Vivek.
With the city losing a good chunk of its elephants due to encroachments and unplanned development, Salim Ali Centre for Ornithologists and Nature conservation (SACON) and Young Indians organized a session on conserving elephants in which several city based environmentalists and other conservationists took part.
According to Vivek, in the past one year, 456 elephants had died in the country. “Since 1987 till date, more than 124 elephants have died only on railway tracks,” he said. He said the key to saving elephants lies in maintaining the elephant corridors. “From 88 corridors, the number has risen to 101 this year due to the shrinking habitats and development work. If the elephant habitat is restored, conflict could be minimised,” he said.
He also suggested that elephants should not be held captive and stray elephants and calves should be reunited with their herd.