As forest resources rapidly dwindle in Odisha due to development pressures, distressed and famished elephants are entering villages/ cropland to find food and water, by crossing major highways. This is intensifying human-elephant-conflict and a staggering number of elephant deaths caused by vehicle collisions. Restoring degraded habitats with favored elephant plant species and creating waterholes in their habitats can prevent them from crossing treacherous roads for food and water, saving them.
Human-elephant conflict is escalating across Odisha with a whopping 947 elephant deaths in the last 10 years, caused by a steep decline in elephant forage species and a lack of water in core elephant habitats. Population growth and demand for resources, relentless diversion of elephant habitats, loss of forest/canopy coverage, damage to corridor health due to mining, construction of canals, railway tracks and multi-lanes highways are all fragmenting the forests, driving elephants into villages.
The project's goal is to ensure availability of sufficent fodder and water in core elephant habitats/corridors by growing nurseries of elephant favoured plants, such as Bauhinia vines, jackfruit, and mango, and monitoring them until maturity, while creating water bodies in core forests. Tribal people will be trained and employed, creating job opportunities and sustainable human communities, which will mitigate human-elephant conflict and animosity, fostering a harmonious/ peaceful coexistence.
The proposed measures are a roadmap to protecting the endangered Asian elephants and their habitat/ corridor. In the long run this project will benefit elephants and humans - ecologically, culturally, and socio-economically, as people will begin to realize the value of protecting elephants. In collaboration with our local partner PARIBARTAN we're involving villagers and forest officials to protect elephants and biodiversity, while creating livelihoods for people on the forest fringes. A Win-Win!