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Elephants in India: Challenges and Solutions UPSC NOTE

 

  • India's elephant population is critically low (25,000-30,000) and classified as "endangered."

  • Their habitat range is just 3.5% of its historical size.

Habitat Fragmentation:

  • A major threat is habitat fragmentation, where elephant habitat is broken into small, isolated pockets by human development.

  • This limits their movement and breeding options, harming herd health in the long run.

Challenges of Movement:

  • Female elephants travel vast distances (up to 500 sq km) and fragmented habitats force them to cross roads and railways, increasing accident risks.

Seasonal Migration:

  • Some elephant populations, like those in Bandipur, Mudumalai, and Wayanad, undertake seasonal migrations for water and food.

  • Studies have identified 18 elephant corridors between Tamil Nadu and Kerala, highlighting the importance of migration routes.

Wildlife Corridors as a Solution:

  • Managed wildlife corridors like Motichur-Chilla corridor (in Rajaji National Park, Uttarakhand) can enable safe elephant movement between protected areas and maintain genetic diversity.

Human-Elephant Conflict:

  • Despite the challenges, there is still a risk of conflict with humans when elephants raid crops or damage property during their movements

Train Collisions:

  • Train accidents are a major threat to elephants.

  • A Canadian study showed warning systems with lights and bells can be somewhat effective in prompting animals to move away from tracks.

  • However, their effectiveness is limited on curved tracks with low visibility and by high train speeds.

AI-based Solution (Gajraj System):

  • Indian Railways uses a new system called Gajraj to reduce train-elephant collisions.

  • This system uses geophonic sensors on optical fiber cables to detect elephant vibrations.

  • When elephant vibrations are detected, an AI system alerts train drivers and prompts speed reductions to avoid accidents.

  • This system is currently operational in Alipurduar, a high-risk area for elephant accidents.

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Learnerz IAS | Concept oriented UPSC Classes in Malayalam: Elephants in India: Challenges and Solutions UPSC NOTE
Elephants in India: Challenges and Solutions UPSC NOTE
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