Asian Elephant is one of the priority species for WCS-India. The long-term goal for our conservation efforts is to ensure a thriving population of Asian Elephants in India by securing its habitats as well as minimizing the risks of human-elephant conflict in human-use landscapes. We contribute to the conservation of Asian Elephants primarily through the wide variety of field activities we pursue in the biodiversity-rich landscapes of Western Ghats and northern West Bengal.
Asian Elephant conservation in Western Ghats
The Western Ghats landscape is home to the largest Asian Elephant population in the world. Although large, this population is nevertheless threatened by habitat loss and fragmentation, poaching of elephants, and from retaliatory killing of elephants due to conflict with humans. One of WCS-India’s main efforts has been to support the government in securing elephant habitats and corridors through consolidation of Protected Area Networks. This is made possible through three approaches across the Western Ghats that include facilitation of voluntary relocation of communities from Protected Areas resulting in creation of inviolate spaces, catalyzing privately-funded land purchase for individual families residing within PAs and elephant corridors, and supporting the Forest Department in expansion of the PA network. These initiatives enable the creation of inviolate and large, contiguous forest tracts, which are essential to support a thriving population of this large-ranging mammal. Over the past decades, WCS-India has supported the Forest Department in consolidating several thousand hectares of critical wildlife habitats and elephant corridors into the Protected Area Network.
Elephant in Bhadra landscape
Besides this, WCS-India also provides continual support to the Forest Department in the prevention of wildlife trafficking as well as technical support on law enforcement actions that protect Asian Elephants and their habitat in the Western Ghats.
Asian Elephant conservation in Northern West Bengal
Elephant herd in a tea estate in West Bengal
WCS-India has been working in elephant corridors in the West Bengal-Assam region, mainly across a landscape that is characterized by a mosaic of tea plantations juxtaposed with forest fragments of varying sizes. The frequent encounters of humans with elephants result in serious consequences for the local communities as well as the animals. WCS-India works in this landscape to mitigate human-elephant conflict through community involvement, citizen science and collaboration with tea estate managements.