Elephant Corridor at Assam

Elephant Corridor at Assam

Elephant Corridor Project at Hattigor Tea Estate and Karbi Anglong, Assam

The Giant Fall

On the afternoon of 28 October 2014, at Khoirabari Division of Hattigor tea estate, a herd of approximately 100 wild elephants were spotted. This is their annual migratory route between Assam and the hills of Bhutan. Locals from the nearby Ghagra Bazar had gathered to watch them. The onlookers were asked to leave the site when it was reported that one elephant from the herd had fallen into a drain near the plantations. Promptly Mr. U. Basnet, Asst. Manager of the estate and Shri Biren Baishya, J.B. arrived at the spot to inspect the situation. The Forest Administration was notified immediately of the situation and their officials reached the spot at around 5.30pm in the evening with a trained elephant to help them in the rescue operation. The joint effort between the Forest Department and estate management that lasted for over three hours led to the elephant finally being removed from the drain safely by nightfall and walking away unharmed, to join its herd.

These stories of wandering elephants on the tea gardens are a common occurrence which do not always have a happy ending such as the case above. This makes the Elephant Corridor Project an absolute necessity in these parts.

 

Project Partners

 
Wildlife Conservation Society

The Wildlife Conservation Society saves wildlife and wild places worldwide. It does so through science, conservation, education and the management of the world’s largest system of urban wildlife parks, led by the flagship Bronx Zoo. Together these activities help change attitudes towards nature and help people imagine wildlife and humans living in harmony. WCS is committed to this mission because it is essential to the integrity of life on earth. Wildlife Conservation Society has furthered its global mission in India since 1988 through activities of its staff and partners.

WCS – India Programme mission has combined cutting-edge research on tigers and other wildlife, with national capacity building and effective site-based conservation through constructive collaborations with governmental and non-governmental partners. Uncompromisingly committed to wildlife conservation, WCS – India Programme inspires and nurtures a positive attitude towards nature in people through its scientific and conservation endeavours.

 

Balipara Foundation

Instituted on 4 July, 2007, the Balipara Foundation has been a leading advocate of the principles of Naturenomics™, both in theory and in practice. The Naturenomics™ model seeks to bring the objectives of economics in line with the imperatives of nature. Located in the state of Assam, North-Eastern region of India, and being part of the Indo-Myanmar Biodiversity Hotspot, the location has inspired its vision of creating a Biodiversity Knowledge Bank. The Foundation, firm in its belief that “interdependence is of greater value than independence”, will strive to create interdependencies between all life forms and natural systems with the objectives of conserving and preserving our natural heritage.

The team at the field camp (bottom, left to right: Pragyan Sharma, Raju Devi, Prity Hait, Dr. Divya Vasudev, Dr. Varun Goswami, Bipul Kalita)

 

Robin Eastment, Balipara Tract and Frontier Foundation, interacting with the field team and conducting surveys in tea gardens

 

Project Description

Human-elephant conflict poses a critical threat to the survival of the elephant population in the region. Movement of elephants through human settlements, agricultural fields and tea plantations concomitantly results in damage of crops and property. In partnership with WCS and BTFF, a project has been undertaken to mark and clear out migratory passages for elephants that move between Bhutan and Assam, create small water bodies to keep them on the designated path and minimize human-elephant conflict.

The primary objective of this joint project is to assess the migratory routes of elephants and identify appropriate conservation measures that can facilitate elephant movement. With the help of state-of-theart scientific methods to identify areas intensively used by elephants for movement during the flood season, we plan to contrast the use of space by elephants during the dry season. At this time, elephant movement between Kaziranga and Karbi Anglong is generally expected to be lower. Phase 1 of the Project – fieldwork in the dry season (February 2015) using grid-based data collection approach – has been completed. The grid network encompasses an area of 250 sq. km. between Kaziranga and Karbi Anglong, bounded by Sekoni tea estate in the west and Bokhakhat in the east. So far, we have recorded the presence of leopard, muntjac deer, and hare in addition to elephants. This Project also includes surveys conducted in villages situated near the migratory paths of elephants to understand how people respond to elephant presence. In order to achieve a more sustainable impact, the facilitation of elephant movement must include the support and cooperation of local communities of the landscape.

Cover photo was taken during: Elephant observed in Diffloo Tea Estate, part of a larger herd. The field team recorded the location, and noted characteristics for individual identification.

Field teams also obtained signs and sightings of animals other than elephants, including barking deer, leopard, bear and rhinoceros. Here is a barking deer moving through a tea plantation.