Tamil Nadu gets 315 acres for elephant corridor

April 9th, 2008 - 7:27 pm ICT by admin  

Chennai, April 9 (IANS) Elephants in Tamil Nadu will have exclusive right of passage and the government is in the process of developing these elephant corridors, Forest Minister N. Selvaraj told the state assembly Wednesday. As much as 315 acres of land is being acquired for this purpose and “Chief Minister M. Karunanidhi has allotted Rs.2.68 crore (26.8 million) for this,” said Selvaraj.

He was responding to legislator T. Ramachandran who wanted to know if an elephant sanctuary would be set up in Pettamugilalam forest area in Thalli, in Dharmapuri district.

The focus of the forest department would be to ensure that there were no encroachments on the traditional paths elephants take to move in the Western Ghats forests, the minister said.

The forests form a 600-km long spine along the Tamil Nadu-Kerala border. Elephant herds also move freely into Karnataka and Kerala forests that are congruent.

“They travel on a particular pattern,” the minister said.

The areas through which the elephant corridor will pass are yet to be named but it is likely to be the Moyar corridor.

“The elephants move in herds and on a particular trajectory. When this is disturbed (by way of encroachments or other man-made detours) they stray into unknown zones and end up entering human habitats, affecting residents,” Selvaraj said.

Wildlife experts like John Singh have identified the Moyar corridor, which connects forests in the Eastern Ghats to those in the Western Ghats. Setting up the corridor will require over 300 acres.

A government-supported census in 2006 found Tamil Nadu is home to nearly 3,867 wild elephants.

In the last six years, elephants have killed 136 people in Tamil Nadu. Fifty-six elephants died last year and this year the tally is already over 15. Eighteen people died last year due to elephant attacks.

The minister said solar-powered fencing is an important ingredient to keep out wild herds in areas prone to elephant attacks.

Pits were also being dug as the “clever animals destroyed the solar fencing, using dry tree branches”, he added.

Last year 304 km of solar fences were put up at a cost of Rs.50 million. This year another 200 km is being planned.

India has nearly 24,000 elephants.

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