Assessing the future of Asian elephants in

Chittoor, Andhra Pradesh

This project is being conducted in Chittoor district of Andhra Pradesh. The two protected areas (PA's) covered under the study area are Koundinya Wildlife Sanctuary (KWS) and Sri Venkateswara National Park (SVNP). Apart from these two areas, villages and Reserved Forest around KWS and SVNP is being surveyed to assess the movement of elephants.

 

The state of Andhra Pradesh is not known to have elephants since the past 200 years (Syam Prasad & Reddy 2002), but in the early 1980's a small heard had come in from the Hosur-Dharmapuri Forest (Manakadan et al., 2010), ever since there has been constant seasonal movement of elephants in this area. The elephants had established permanent residence in KWS and some of them moved further northeast to SVNP. Species geographical ranges are almost never at equilibrium; they expand or contract with change in ecological and anthropogenic factors (Gaston, 2009). The reasons for such expansion are important not only from a research point of view but also to effectively manage these new populations. This population of elephants is unique in the sense that they operate in multiple human-defined political boundaries. This part of the Eastern Ghats spreads across the states of Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka and Tamil Nadu. Hence the objective is to have a tri-state agreement in the long-run to treat this as an ecological landscape, and not divide the area based on political boundaries. This can help better manage and conserve these elephant populations. The project therefore aims to identify functional corridors which facilitate movement so as to aid in minimizing human-elephant conflict.

 

This project was initiated in 2016 with financial support from Prince Bernhard Nature Fund. As this is just the initial phase of the project, we first hope to collect data to understand the population, seasonal movement of elephants in the landscape and other ecological information. Apart from the ecological perspective we hope to gauge the extent of human-elephant conflict and people’s attitude towards elephants. The central goal of this project is to better understand the on-ground situation of elephants and work with the forest department and local people towards the conservation of elephants and the landscape.

 

Objective of the project:

 

  1. To assess the population and age-structure of elephants in KWS and SVNP.

  2. To determine the path and seasonal movement of elephants between Hosur-Dharmapuri forest and KWS.

  3. To assess the various anthropogenic and ecological pressures inside KWS and SVNP.

  4. Habitat-use of elephants in the landscape.

  5. Identifying and quantifying the extent of Human-elephant conflict.

  6. Equip the local people and Forest Department to deal with conflict situations.

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© Wildlife Research and Conservation Society 2017