Wayanad elephant corridor project hits a roadblock (India)


EM Manoj, The Hindu

Date Published

See link for map/illustration.

The project facilitates free movement of elephants through their traditional migratory paths

The Wayanad leg of a Central project to restore elephant corridors has remained a nonstarter owing to apathy of Revenue Department officials and lack of coordination between departments.

The project is aimed at mitigating human-wildlife conflict in Wayanad.

Studies by the Centre for Ecological Sciences, Bengaluru, Forest Research Institute, Peechi, and the French Institute, Puducherry, have recommended restoration of elephant corridors as a permanent solution to address the issue and maintain viability of elephant habitats.

The studies suggested revival of the Pakramthalam- Periya, Periya-Kottiyur, Nilambur- Gudallur, Thirunelly- Kuddrakode, and South Wayanad- Malabar sanctuary elephant corridors in the Wayanad region.

The Forest Department had given priority to the Periya- Kottiyur corridor, which connects the North Wayanad forest division and the Aralam Wildlife Sanctuary.It was planned to acquire 131.5 hectares, 36.5 hectares in Kannur district and 95 hectares in Wayanad district, for the corridor in five phases relocating 205 families, 171 in Wayanad and 34 in Kannur.

Central nod

The Centre approved the project in 2007 at an estimate of Rs.7.89 crore and allocated Rs.4.5 crore in 2008.

Of the allocation, Rs.2.5 crore was handed over to the Kannur Collector and Rs.2 crore to his Wayanad counterpart.

Though land acquisition in Kannur is almost over, the work in Wayanad is yet to be launched.

“The traditional methods of mitigating attacks by wild animals and destruction of crops are digging trenches, erecting power fences, and compensation for the loss of farmers. As such measures have proved futile in the long run, a permanent solution is restoring the elephant corridors as fragmented habitats of elephants is one of the major reasons for the conflict,” North Wayanad forest divisional officer Narendranath Veluri said.

“It will also facilitate free movement of elephants through their traditional migratory paths to adjoining reserves in the State and forests in Karnataka and Tamil Nadu,” Mr. Veluri said.