MYSURU: As part of its long-term goal to secure elephant corridors across India and check man-animal conflicts, Wildlife Trust of India (WTI), along with the Karnataka Forest Department, has planned to purchase 38 acres on the fringes of Chamarajanagar-Talamalai forest at Mudahalli to widen the elephant corridor.
With the proposed land acquisition, the corridor will be widened by 200-300 metres along along 1.5 km to facilitate free movement of elephants. The plan has a potential to provide unhindered habitat connectivity for more than 2,000 elephants directly. The authorities have studied the link for wild animals’ movement between Biligiri Ranganathaswamy Tiger Reserve and Sathyamangalam Tiger Reserve.
The move will benefit around 2,000 elephants. The Forest Department felt the widening of the elephant corridor not only provides free passage to elephants but also bails out around 5 lakh families affected by man-animal conflict. Keen on protecting wildlife habitats, the WTI had, in 2005, identified 88 elephant corridors across India’s elephant range states, working in collaboration with a team of experienced researchers, forest officials and NGOs.
Though five corridors like Edayarhalli-Doddasampige (Karnataka), Siju-Rewak (Meghalaya), Rewak-Emangre (Meghalaya), Thirunelli-Kudrakote (Kerala) and Chilla-Motichur (Uttarakhand) have already been secured with the support of stakeholders, the WTI that purchased 25.5 acres in Doddasampige in 2003 had transferred the land in 2009.
The WTI has plans to involve schools and community organisations in conducting awareness programmes to educate villagers about the need of corridors. It will also educate the local communities towards minimising their dependency on forests.
“The Mudahalli Corridor, with its small but vital piece of land, is all the elephants have to pass between two key tiger reserves— BRT and Sathyamangalam,” said Sandeep Tiwari of the IUCN-Asian Elephant Specialist Group, India.
“The other corridor between these protected areas, Punjur, is almost completely blocked leaving Mudahalli as the critical connection with the movement already restricted for both elephants and tigers,” he added. He said the efforts of WTI and the Karnataka Forest Department to secure and widen the corridor needs urgent support.